Approximately 10 g net carbs. About 35 minutes prep and cook time.
Some years ago, I was hiking across France on the GR-5, a trail that winds from near Rotterdam on the North Sea to Nice on the Mediterranean Côte d’Azur. Having a healthy hiker appetite, I was enjoying the food along the way: the Dutch-Indonesian blend of rijsttafel, the Belgium mussels and frites (okay, I no longer eat rice and frites, but I sure enjoy the memory!). And pretty much French anything.
It’s really a perfect vacation: Walk 10 or 15 or 20 miles and then eat all the French food you want.
About halfway through, in the Franco-German cultural collision zone of Alsace, I encountered a meal I couldn’t imagine — and it was on virtually every menu at every restaurant.
Choucroutes aux poissons.
Sauerkraut with fish. In — of all things — a cream sauce. It seemed like France and Germany were at war again. I wanted nothing to do with it.
I’m a pretty imaginative eater, but somehow my imagination didn’t stretch that far. So I ordered other things. But the choucroute kept showing up and curiosity finally got the better of me. At which time, I discovered what was to become a favorite recipe.
The recipe below is based on a combination of sources. I started with Saveur‘s version and then altered it to match my memory. This is a flexible recipe: You can cook the fish all number of ways. The Alsatian version I liked the best involved multiple types of seafood. And for low-carb purposes, I took out the flour, added pork rind as an optional dredging ingredient, and gave the option of adding some of the fat back in.
- Seafood of your choice: 2 – 3 ounces each of 3 selections: shrimp, scallops, trout fillets, haddock fillets, salmon fillets*
- 1/4 lb smoked bacon or speck cut into small pieces (Other smoked cured pork cuts like Coppa, country ham , Canadian bacon will work)*
- ½ lb. raw Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed (If you can’t find raw sauerkraut, the regular supermarket kind will do, but you’ll lose some of the popping fresh flavor not to mention the probiotics. But don’t let that dissuade you from trying this recipe. It’ll still be good.)
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- ½ cups heavy cream
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil (I use extra-virgin)
- 1 tsp. finely chopped thyme leaves*
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds*
- 2 pods star anise (fennel can be used instead)*
- 1 bay leaf*
- 1¼ cup dry white wine. Riesling is a traditional Alsatian choice*
- Salt and black pepper to taste*
- 2 Tbs crushed pork rinds (optional)*
- 1 Tbsp of your choice of fresh herbs for garnish: parsley leaves, fennel leaves, tarragon, dill weed, chives, or chervil*
*These items not included in the carb calculations because they have only trace or zero carbs. But note, if you use scallops, you will have to factor in an extra 4.6 g per 3 ounces.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Pour off some of the fat (Your decision as to how much to take off; you can reserve some and add it back later. But leave at least 1 Tbsp in the pan).
- Reduce heat to medium and add half the shallots and all the thyme, cumin, star anise, and bay leaf. Cook until shallots are soft,(about 4 minutes).
- Add sauerkraut, ½ cup wine, and ⅓ cup water plus salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook on low for about 25 minutes until the sauerkraut is soft. Check and stir every once in a while.
- Set aside the skillet and remove the bay leaf and the star anise. Adjust seasonings. Cover and keep warm on a warming setting or warming plate.
The Fish and Seafood
Fish and Seafood, and then the sauce, can be cooked while sauerkraut is cooking and everything will be done at about the same time.
- Season the fish and seafood with salt and pepper.
- Optional: Dredge the trout or other white fish fillets in crushed pork rinds.
- Heat remaining oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and/or seafood (in separate stages, if needed).
- How you cook the seafood is very flexible, depending on the seafood you choose and your favorite ways to prepare. The simplest way to pan-fry. Shrimp and bay scallops take about 4 minutes. Fish fillets can be dredged in pork-rinds (optional) and sauteed until golden brown (about 5 minutes).
- This recipe (if you read French) suggests placing haddock in cold milk, then poaching for 10 minutes. It suggests cooking the other fish in the oven with lemon, shallots, salt, pepper, and butter at 410 degrees for 7 minutes.
- Once the fish — however you’ve cooked them — are done, transfer fish and seafood to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Add 2 Tbsp butter to the skillets and cook the rest of the shallots on medium-high heat until soft (about 4 minutes).
- Deglaze the pan with the remaining wine and cook for another 4 minutes, until reduced.
- Add the cream and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (about 3 minutes).
- Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and stir in remaining butter, allowing it to melt.
- To serve, divide sauerkraut into portions on dinner plates.
- Put the fish and seafood on top of the sauerkruat.
- Spoon sauce around or over the fish and garnish with your choice of herbs.
- Serve with dry Riesling wine.
Note: This recipe uses 6 ounces of trout per serving for the nutrition calculation. Add 4.6 carbs per 3 ounce serving of scallops, if you use them. For the label’s sake, I’ve assumed using Canadian bacon.