Epis-Rubbed Steelhead Trout

In this Steelhead recipe for trout, Haitian epis are used to flavor the fish and flavor the stewed chili peppers that accompany it.

Serve it with stewed red peppers. This delicate fish is infused with oniony and herb flavors and a hint of lime-based vinegar from the marinade of chef Gregory Gourdet.

Haitian Epis

The most basic Haitian seasoning paste is an all-purpose marinade made of aromatics, herbs, and spices. The most common ingredient used in Haitian cuisine is used to create a spice foundation for stews, beef, and fish. There are also prepared options that can be made from scratch; the homemade versions, such as those made by Gourdet, showcase the fresh and bold taste of the vegetables in the epis, together with herbs, chile, and vinegar.

A few notes from Food & Wine Test Kitchen Food & Wine Test Kitchen

Scoring the trout will help even out the fish’s flavor and helps cut through the crisp skin much more manageable. Epis leftovers can create soup Joumou and Poul Nan Sos (Haitian Chicken in Sauce).


Homemade Epis

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly chopped leaf parsley stems and leaves
  • 1 cup roughly chopped white onion (about one small onion)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped scallions
  • 2/3 cup roughly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped shallot (1 to 2 shallots)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Four medium garlic cloves peeled
  • Two whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • One medium-sized fresh Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chile stemmed.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt


  • 1 (2-pound) skin-on TEELhead trout or sustainable salmon fillet, weighed and cut crosswise into three pieces (see the note below for more details).)
  • Four teaspoons of kosher salt divided
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons homemade epis (above) or store-bought epis (such as Creole Me Up), divided
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon of tomato paste
  • One large yellow onion cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Four medium-sized red bell peppers cut into 1/4-inch strips.
  • One small fresh habanero chile, finely chopped
  • Two tablespoons of white vinegar
  • One tablespoon of avocado oil, plus more for a grill basket
  • Fresh cilantro Fresh flat-leaf parsley, as well as edible flowers to garnish


Create the epis from scratch.

Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix to combine. In groups, transfer to the food processor, and blend until the mixture looks like the texture of a chunky paste, between 30 and 1 minute for each batch. Transfer the epis to a container, cover it with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator until it is ready for use. There should be about 2 1/3 cups. Keep any extra epis to use in another way.

Put the trout in the water.

  1. Utilizing a sharp knife, score the skin side of the fish by cutting 3-4 slices crosswise across each fillet, stopping approximately 1 inch from the edges, and cutting approximately halfway through the fillets. Dry the fish using paper towels. Sprinkle all over with two teaspoons of salt. Rub the fillets’ sides thoroughly with 1/2 cups epis. Place the fish skin-side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cool, covered, for at least 18 or as long as 24 hours.
  2. The olive oil is heated in a large saucepan on medium-high heat until it sparkles. Add tomato paste and stir constantly until the paste is slightly darkened and caramelized, approximately 1 minute. Add onion, garlic, and the remaining two teaspoons of salt. Cook with a stirring now and then until the onion softens, which takes about 4 minutes. Add habanero and bell peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft, between 5 and 10 minutes. Add two tablespoons of epis and stir continuously until the mixture does not have an uncooked taste, approximately 1 minute. Add vinegar and simmer, stirring often until it is slightly reduced, approximately 1 minute. Keep warm by covering and keeping it on low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Grill until medium-high (400degF to 350degF). Dry the fish using the help of a paper towel to eliminate excess moisture. It would help if you left the most epic of fish feasible. Apply one tablespoon of avocado oil over all sides of the fillets. Arrange the grilling basket made of metal on a single surface, covered with avocado oil. Grill the fish, skin side down, in the basket until the skin is lightly crisp and moderately charred. It takes about 3-8 minutes. (Move the grill around the basket if the oil gets excessive.) Flip the basket and grill until the centers of the fillets are pale pink, with a small quantity of transparency, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest layer of fillets registers 125degF. About 1 to 4 minutes.
  4. Pour approximately 2 cups of stewed-pepper mixture onto a large plate and top with fillets skin-side up. Decorate with cilantro, parsley, and flowers. Serve immediately with the remaining stewed peppers.


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