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Home > Recipes > Steelhead Trout > Epis-Rubbed Steelhead Trout

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

Served with stewed peppers, this tender fish is infused with herb and oniony notes and a little vinegar-and-lime tang from chef Gregory Gourdet’s marinade.

Haitian Epis

The fundamental Haitian seasoning paste, epis is an all-purpose marinade made from a blend of herbs, aromatics, and spices. The staple in Haitian cooking is used as a seasoning base for stews, meats, and fish. While there are prepared options available, made-from-scratch versions, like Gourdet’s, highlight the fresh, bold flavor of the vegetables in the epis, along with chile, herbs, and vinegar.

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

Scoring the trout helps evenly flavor the fish and makes cutting through the crispy skin easier. Leftover epis can be used to make Soup Joumou or Poul Nan Sos (Haitian Chicken in Sauce).


Homemade Epis

  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems

  • 1 cup roughly chopped white onion (about 1 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 chopped celery

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 medium-size fresh Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chile, stemmed

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt


  • 1 (2-pound) skin-on Steelhead trout or sustainable salmon fillet, scaled and cut crosswise into 3 pieces (see Note)

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons homemade epis (above) or store-bought epis (such as Creole Me Up), divided

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

  • 4 medium-size red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips

  • 1 small fresh habanero chile, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil, plus more for grill basket

  • Fresh cilantro, fresh flat-leaf parsley, and edible flowers, for garnish


    Make the homemade epis

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Working in batches, transfer to a food processor, and process until mixture resembles a chunky puree, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer epis to a container; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You will have about 2 2/3 cups. Save any extra epis for another use.

    Make the trout

  • Using a sharp knife, score skin side of fish by cutting 3 to 4 slits crosswise on each fillet, stopping about 1 inch from edges and cutting about halfway through fillets. Pat fish dry using paper towels; sprinkle evenly on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt. Rub both sides of fillets evenly with 1/2 cup epis; place fish, skin side up, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 18 hours or up to 24 hours.

  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium until shimmering. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened and caramelized, about 1 minute. Add onion, garlic, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers and habanero; cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons epis; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture no longer has a raw flavor, about 1 minute. Add vinegar; simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Cover and keep warm over low, stirring occasionally.

  • Preheat a grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Pat fish dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, leaving as much epis on as possible. Rub 1 tablespoon avocado oil evenly in a thin layer on all sides of fillets; place in a single layer in a metal grilling basket coated with additional avocado oil. Grill fish, skin side down, in basket until skin is slightly crisp and moderately charred, 3 to 8 minutes. (Move basket around grill if oil flares up too much.) Flip basket; grill until fillet centers are light pink with a bit of translucence or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion of fillets registers 125°F, 1 to 4 minutes.

  • Spoon about 2 cups stewed pepper mixture on a large platter; top with fillets, skin side up. Garnish with cilantro, parsley, and flowers. Serve immediately with remaining stewed peppers.

    Suggested pairing

    Citrusy, gingery Pinot Gris: Illahe Vineyard Willamette Valley

    Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine