"We learned in the Marines that the smell of almonds is the first sign that you're under chemical attack."
for the trout:
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon basic Creole spices (recipe below)
6 each 5–7 ounce skinless speckled trout filets
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup sliced almonds
1 each lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
for the basic Creole spices: (makes 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
To make the Creole spices: Mix together the celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and allspice in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and store. Chef's note: Using this spice blend is truly the easiest way to consistently achieve the flavors I grew up with. Once made, the spices will last for six months in an airtight container.
1. Put the milk into a wide dish. Put the flour and Creole spices into another wide dish and stir to combine. Season the fish filets with salt and pepper, dip them into the milk, and dredge in the seasoned flour.
2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a serving platter.
3. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Properly browning the butter makes all the difference. Don't rush it; take your time swirling the butter in the pan so that the milk solids brown and give off the signature, nutty aroma that is heightened once you add the almonds. Swirl the skillet over the heat so that the butter melts evenly and cook until the butter turns brownish, 5–7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the almonds, and cook, stirring gently, until the nuts are toasty brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley, and a dash of salt.
4. Spoon the browned butter and almonds over the fish and serve. Serve while the brown butter is still foamy.