Somewhere over the rainbow trout

Ahoy there mateys!


I recently went to another concert (crazy because I am not a concert-goer at all). I got to check out the ‘Straight Outta Oz’ show by Todrick Hall in Columbus, and it did not disappoint. It was truly amazing, to be honest. Todrick and his team are incredibly talented. At the end of the show he helped a man get engaged to his boyfriend, which was the cutest thing ever!  I’ve never witnessed a live proposal, let alone a gay one; it definitely got me right in the feels, man.

I had an absolute blast in Columbus and actually ran into Todrick later at a bar, and surprisingly hung out with him and his people for a little while! I got a really bad selfie with him (my phone sucks, I should’ve had it taken on someone else’s phone) so you’d have to check my Instagram for that. I have certain photo standards here.


I left feeling inspired by all the colors of the rainbow! Upon returning to Kansas Cleveland, I cooked this dish which I am dubbing the double rainbow. (insert internet memes here) <-Go on youtube and search double rainbow if you don’t get that.



It combines one of my favorite fishies, the rainbow trout, with one of my favorite summer/fall vegetables, rainbow chard. Originally I had some other components, but then decided to make it very simple and just feature the fish and the vegetable.

With chard, most people discard the stems and just cook with the leaves. I’ve always used the stems too, however. They’re perfectly edible, so that’s just wasteful. You have a few different options with using the stems. If you’re doing a high heat roast on the chard, the stems are actually delicious cooked this way, albeit a little bitter. I find red chard to be a little too bitter this way, but regular swiss chard and rainbow chard in particular tastes good roasted with high heat.

Another good use for the stems is to throw them in your juicer. They contain a great nutrient profile, especially rainbow chard, because more colors = more nutrient variety. So if you’re big into juices and smoothies, this a great way to re-purpose the stems. They’re bitter, but also a little sweet and earthy. The juice pairs well with apples, beets, and carrots; just make sure to balance out sweetness with enough green stuff!

What I did for my double rainbow dish, however, is something I don’t do very often…


Rainbow chard?



Yeah, I pickled them!

I’m not much of a pickle lover, but I like them more when they’re home made and haven’t been fermenting for ages; sorry that’s always creeped me out a little bit. These made beautiful pickles though!

I combined apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, coconut sugar, and various types of salt. I threw in some garlic and Thai chili peppers as well. If you don’t want a murky pickle brine, I’d suggest using probably white sugar and white vinegar or some better alternative. I don’t use those products so I just used what I had on hand. I used a ratio of about 2 (vinegar) to 1(sugar) to 1(salt). I’m no pickle expert though, so I’d recommend googling around if you want to experiment with DIY pickles. There are lots of pickle brine recipes out there.


I cut them into finer strips and they added a really nice touch to the dish! Such colors!

The green leaves of the rainbow chard were simply sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and salt. You don’t need to cook them long like you would collards, mustard, or kale. These greens are more similar to spinach, and they cook and wilt down quickly.

The rainbow trout in this dish was awesome, and actually resembled unagi, or broiled BBQ eel. If you’re a fan of this sushi staple, you should give this trout a try! Rainbow trout is more affordable, available, and sustainable. I’m gonna have to try this style of trout in a sushi preparation.

Since rainbow trout fillets are usually quite thin (unless we’re talking steelhead trout), they take well to pan-searing or grilling both sides without the need for an oven. Sear the flesh side a few minutes until it yields when you try to flip it. A good long sear over med-high heat will get the skin nice and crispy. Brush the glaze on the flesh side when the fish is just about done. You could throw it in the oven for a minute after applying the glaze, but it’s not necessary.


If you really want to replicate unagi here, you could glaze with an unagi sauce, or sweetened soy sauce. The glaze I made was a Korean BBQ sauce.

1 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar or coconut/palm sugar

1 Tbsp Gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste) – substitute Sriracha or something more available if you don’t know where to find this (Asian markets typically)

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp white pepper

minced garlic and ginger to taste

Bring ingredients to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook on low until a bit thick and shiny. Should take about 5 minutes. You can add a little corn starch or other thickener, but it’s not totally necessary. If using corn starch, shake it in a container with water to create a slurry as this prevents clumping. I use this natural, healthy thickener called Irish sea moss. I plan to cover that in a later post.

Serve with a side of rice for a more complete meal. The seared and glazed rainbow trout has an amazing depth of flavor and texture and pairs really well with the garlicky greens, and bright, crisp pickles.

You never know what you’ll find over the rainbows…


Until next time,

May the fish be with you!

~Maki Zavelli




Making Waves: Alley Cat

I had heard a lot of buzz from multiple sources about Alley Cat, and seeing as how they specialize in seafood, it was a no-brainer for this feature. This Zack Bruell’s 8th restaurant! They are all in the Cleveland area too. He is quite the restaurateur!


I recently had the opportunity to check out Alley Cat in the Flats before heading to the Melanie Martinez show at the House of Blues and hanging out with all the cute little crazy fan girls!


Don’t judge. We all have guilty pleasures. The show was awesome.

But I digress, what were we talking about? Oh yeah oysters or something…

So Alley Cat is mainly known for their oyster bar, but they offer a full menu of upscale coastal cuisine. It was beautiful out so we sat at the awesome patio.


This may surprise some of you, but I actually am not a fan of oysters. In fact, it’s really the only seafood I can think of that I don’t like (unless you count jellyfish which was pretty gnarly on both occasions I’ve tried it.)

Oysters are ok cooked, but they don’t sing any special tune when fried. I once had these huge fresh grilled oysters on an island in Japan that everyone around me absolutely loved, and I was kinda like “ehhhh”. It’s possible I was unlucky in that every one I tried was gritty, but I decided that day that it must just be me and I don’t like oysters. Whenever I’ve had them raw, I feel nauseous for about an hour since they make me gag on the way down… yeah not pleasant.

I must say. I FINALLY met an oyster that I enjoyed.

Admittedly, I didn’t get the name of which types of oysters we had…

…since I was off enjoying the amazing view when they arrived at the table.


This restaurant across the river is called Shooters on the Lake. I have never been here as an adult, and I think I was there once or twice as a child. I think it was my parents’ favorite anniversary spot. I definitely need to go check this place out in the near future.


Now, I might not be able to give too much credit to the oysters for winning me over since I kind of doused mine in leftover juice from our ceviche. Also I cut mine into smaller bites. Don’t judge. At least I don’t stab sushi with chopsticks and douse it in soy sauce.

Speaking of ceviche, it was on point.


I believe it consisted of salmon, tuna, and shrimp. Sorry this was nearly a month ago, my memory is getting hazy; it’s been a crazy summer!

Moving on to entrees.


We just had to order the grilled octopus since it’s one of our favorite proteins. I do this really awesome braised octopus that I’m going to have to feature on the blog soon. I haven’t met an octopus in a restaurant that tops it, and this one was no exception. To their credit, I’m not sure how they got such an amazing texture from grilling it. It didn’t appear to have been marinated, so I’m not sure what the secret was; I wish I would’ve asked. On the downside, however, there was a distinctively strong char taste that was a little off-putting; not a deal-breaker, but a note I could’ve done without. And although we enjoyed the bits of hominy in the dish, we also felt the dish was missing something.


We also ordered the salmon which was described as coming with a ratatouille. That was the main reason I wanted to try it, because I was literally one day away from rolling out our new menu and we had a ratatouille on it as a vegan entree. I’m always a sucker for comparing. Sorry about it.


The skin was nice and crispy and the fish was delicious, albeit a little small for my liking. This dish was also lacking something as well, like a rice or quinoa element of some sort. The ratatouille for me, was unimpressive. it was just a couple of stewed summer vegetables thrown in. I didn’t think it was appropriate to call it a ratatouille, especially when you compare it to our version, which our customers have been loving. I’m gonna do a ratatouille post coming up soon so I can share my version which I’ve been very happy with.


Alley Cat delivered about what I expected across the board. It was good, but not amazing for the price. As a chef myself, I’m spoiled, and always end up complaining that I could do better for far less cost; I have to remind myself though, that at least I’m not working! The only surprise to me here, was that I actually enjoyed oysters for once! I would definitely recommend you go check it out!

We didn’t have time for dessert since the show was about to start (at least according to the tickets…but even though we were late, we weren’t late at all…) We made up for dessert later though that’s for sure.

After the show, we stopped at Colossal Cupcakes with some of the fan girls! (one of which actually looked like a colossal cupcake). Darn, I should’ve got a picture. That was the best way possible to ruin my workout from earlier!

Until next time,

May the fish (and the fan girls) be with you!

~Maki Zavelli