March 4, 2006
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Smoking with herbs

Last night, I had a couple of biggish trout filets. I smoked them over a mixture of cherry and rosemary, and served them with a pesto of parsley, garlic, and pine nuts.

This wasn't extravagance. One of the problems with buying fresh herbs at the Museum of Fruits and Vegetables is guilt: you spend all that money of fresh herbs, and then you don't use them up! There are starving children in China who are going to bed after inadequately-seasoned dinners, and here you are ignoring the tired remnants of last week's thyme because they aren't really first-rate fresh spices any more.

The pesto was left over from early in the week. The garlic (I used a lot of garlic) had mellowed a bit, and it went very nicely with the smoky trout.

The smoker gives me something tasty and new to do with the remnants. I find this is one of the advantages of cooking more: you wind up with bits of things -- fresh spices past their sell-by date, yesterday's once-fresh pesto, a bit of fennel broth or veal stock you forgot to use up -- that you can repurpose. Instead of wasting the ingredient, you can use it for some luxurious new thing. You wouldn't buy herbs to see them go up in smoke, but if they're old and have already lost a step, why not?