Fishers often wonder what to do with the trout they catch. The fish can be bland and boring and soon disappear from the menu. Cold smoking is a good option if you have access to a facility run by a friend. An even better option available to the home cook is to make the trout equivalent of Gravadlax (literally grave salmon) which I'm calling Gravadtrout. It works especially well with fish around 3lbs or larger, the weight of the two tiger trout in the photo, caught when the snow was still on the ground in Yorkshire.
First of all, wash and gut the fish, then remove the two fillets with a good filleting knife. Take out the pin bones with tweezers feeling carefully with the tip of your finger to locate each one. As an alternative you could buy ready prepared rainbow trout fillets from the fishmonger/supermarket. They will probably be smaller so scale down the ingredients.
2 fillets from a 3lb trout, skin still on.
2 tablespoons of vodka or whisky
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
Large bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
200g cooked beetroot, grated (squeeze out most of the liquid)
Mix the sugar, salt and pepper together. Lay the fish fillets flesh side up on a piece of kitchen foil and rub with half of the salt/sugar mixture. Drip the alcohol over the fillets. Mix the dill, beetroot and remaining salt/sugar mix and place on one of the fillets. Place the second fillet on top of the mixture skin side up to form a sandwich. Wrap the foil around the fish carefully to retain the liquid that will be generated. Slip the foil parcel into a plastic bag and retain in a small roasting or baking tin. Place in the fridge to cure and leave for 2-3 days, turning occasionally to expose both fillets equally to the curing mixture.
To serve, remove the foil, scrape away the dill/beetroot cure and pour away the liquid. Pat clean with kitchen roll. The fillet will be the deep red colour illustrated left. At this point its a matter of personal choice whether you cut carefully along the fillet to slice in the manner of smoked salmon or take slices across. For presentation I prefer to cut across. With a sharp knife or better an electric knife, cut just less than half centimetre wide slices across the fillet, removing each from the skin. Take each slice and roll it up starting with the thick end. These little rolls shown in the picture right, resemble roses, especially since the beetroot colour only penetrates the upper layer of the flesh giving an attractive variegated petal effect as shown in the photograph.
In the starter presentation shown, I served with equal amounts of the same trout cold smoked, along with asparagus and dill sauce. For a centrepiece I cut down a hard boiled hen's egg and topped with fresh crab. An alternative centrepiece would be quails eggs topped with lump fish caviar. Enjoy with a glass of Sancerre.
The Glorious Twelfth by Alan Calder
Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005BJ3GNI