If, like me, your confidence doesn’t yet stretch to making an attempt to smoke a side of salmon, then begin with trout writes Sandra Tate …
Trout is reasonably priced, and though it doesn’t produce a meaty, sliceable result it does give you gloriously rich, delicately flavoured flakes. We all found this quite delicious with its lemon and parsley cream, watercress and asparagus salad. Good brown bread is almost essential! Serve as a light lunch or a very impressive, simple starter. Anything left can easily be combined with cream cheese, parsley and lemon juice to make a superb smoked trout paté.
To marinate the trout Buy large trout and have your fishmonger fillet them for you. (My trout produced individual fillets weighing about 165g each, a generous portion for one as a starter). For 4 fillets (total 650g) I used a cure of 80g salt, 60g light brown sugar, the grated zest of a small orange, and a tablespoon each of chopped rosemary and chopped mint leaves. Mix the cure ingredients and rub into the flesh of the trout fillets then lay them flesh to flesh on a tight fitting container. Cover and chill overnight. (As you can see, a good deal of liquid was produced by mine). Rinse away the herbs and soak the fillets for 5 minutes in plenty of cold water then pat dry on kitchen paper. Leave in a cool place (the smoker shelf if possible) for an hour to dry even further.
To smoke the trout fillets: I know, I know, I’m still a novice… not wishing to drag out the cold smoke adapter I set the Bradley Smoker to no heat and placed some oak briquettes in the stack. Once in full smoking mode it had risen to 50°C despite the setting, but I continued. The fillets were laid on a stainless basket in the Bradley, and after 45 minutes of smoking the result was semi-cooked (lightly, but not totally, opaque) trout flesh. Not quite what I had aimed for when I started, but very good all the same.
Editor’s note: Once the marinade had been rinsed off and the trout had been smoked it was difficult to know that the herbs and orange had ever been there. When I do this again I will reserve some of the herbs and zest (not salt/sugar) and rub the fillets with it after rinsing and drying, but prior to smoking. Who knows what the result will be like?
Bradley Smoked Trout Salad (Serves 4)
I used only two of my fillets to make this starter, and I don’t think anyone felt short changed!
300g smoked trout, flaked from the skin
200g fine asparagus
1 bunch of watercress
6 tbsp crème fraîche
finely grated zest of a small lemon
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Wash the watercress and pat dry. Mix the crème fraîche, most of the lemon zest and all of the chopped parsley in a small bowl, then divide between plates.
2 Add flakes of smoked trout over the asparagus and sprinkle with a few strands of lemon zest. Either offer lemon wedges or, as I did, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the trout before serving.