A Taste Trip To New Orleans

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - February 06, 2008
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New Orleans! Just mention that fabulous city and thoughts turn to Mardi Gras, the French Quarter and fine food.

It was back in 1965 when Ruth Fertel bought an existing steak house and turned it into an internationally successful 100-plus location network.

We in Hawaii are fortunate that there are now five Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses across the state -two here on Oahu (Restaurant Row and Waikiki Beach Walk), two on Maui (Lahaina and Wailea) and, on the Big Island, at the Shops at Mauna Lani.

Ruth’s Chris Waikiki is lucky to have snagged Jon Kobashigawa as a manager. His credentials are impeccable in both the worlds of science and restaurants: He holds a degree in fisheries management from the University of Washington; before joining Ruth’s Chris, he was at the Oceanic Institute as a finfish research assistant; and he has published scholarly articles. At the same time, he also was dining room manager at Sam Choy’s Diamond Head Restaurant, working his way up from waiter.

So it’s only fitting that Ruth’s Chris shares with MidWeek readers a recipe for its New Orleans-inspired special menu item, Pecan Trout, and we salute Jon at the same time.


The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a health claim stating that scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

A small handful of pecans will keep you feeling fuller longer than a handful of pretzels or high-carbohydrate snacks, because the fat and protein in nuts take longer to digest.

Pecans contain vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and B vitamins. Pecans are naturally cholesterol-free and sodium-free, and one serving provides about 10 percent of the daily value for zinc and fiber. Pecans are a particularly good source of unsaturated fats, including the monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid.

RUTH’S CHRIS TROUT PECAN

* 4 trout filets (one 6-ounce filet per person)

* 3 tablespoons pure olive oil

* 3 tablespoons butter (may use less or omit for low-fat diets)

* 1/4 cup pecans

*11/2 cups breadcrumbs (approximately), finely ground

* parsley, chopped for garnish

* salt and pepper, to taste

Roast pecans in 300-degree oven for 7-8 minutes. Cool and chop. Reserve. Season trout with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge in breadcrumbs. Shake off excess. Heat olive oil in heavy saute pan or iron skillet on medium heat. Add whole butter; when it begins to sizzle, add dredged trout filets and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. When fish is done, place on serving plate. Quickly wipe out the pan and return to the fire.


For New Orleans Meuniere Butter:

* 1 stick butter, cut in small pieces

* 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

* juice of 1 fresh lemon

Add butter to pan. When butter begins to brown, add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; pour over filets. Sprinkle 1 ounce toasted pecans per filet. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Note: Drizzling sparingly on fish will lower fat content and still have flavor of the butter.

Makes four servings

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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