(Recipe, photography & styling by Ilse van der Merwe www.thefoodfox.com)
This elegant meal must be one of the simplest yet most delicious spring or summer lunches. A fresh fillet of trout, hot-smoked at home using a few simple, accessible tools, served with pan-fried asparagus and a zesty, buttery hollandaise. Paired with Radford Dale’s Organic Touchstone Chardonnay, it simply has to be on your festive entertaining menu this season.
Tip: If you prefer serving individual portions of fish, do portion it ahead of curing and smoking, as the portions will look much neater upon serving. You can follow the steps exactly as for a whole fillet, but you might need a minute or two less time in the smoker.
Radford Dale’s Touchstone Chardonnay is a sublime pairing with its lively, complex acidity and well balanced oak. According to the winemaker, “the nose has vibrant flavours of lime, green citrus, and lemon sherbet that burst onto the palate with refreshing zest. There is a delicate hint of Crème Brulée, slate and gentle oak spice. Tension and a fresh acidity weave through the palate, adding an invigorating drive that keeps the palate engaged with persistence.” This is indeed a show-stopping wine for your festive table. (Order online here)
For the hot smoked trout: (serves 3-4 as a light meal)
1 large fillet of trout, pinboned, skin on (700-800g)
1 cup (200 g) white sugar
2 cups (500 g) medium grain salt
2-3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅔ cup oak wood shavings, for smoking
Note: Medium grain salt is available at most large supermarkets and is inexpensive.
Rinse the trout under cold running water and pat dry with a clean cloth. Mix the sugar and salt together, then spread half of it in the bottom of a plastic container (or glass or ceramic). Place the fish on top, then cover with the rest of the sugar/salt mixture. Cover with a lid (or plastic wrap), then refrigerate for 30 minutes. When the time is up, remove the trout from the mixture, rinse under cold running water and pat dry with a clean cloth (discard the sugar/salt). Set aside.
In a rectangular roasting tray (I use an older one that I don’t mind getting full of smoke), line the base with foil and sprinkle the wood shavings all over the surface. Top with a meat rack, then place the cured fillet on top of the rack. Sprinkle the fish with mustard seeds and season with salt & pepper. Cover the prepared fish with a layer of foil to fit tightly all along the tray’s edges. Now place the prepared tray on a gas hob, medium high heat. After about 2 minutes, you’ll see smoke coming from the edges of the tray. Start timing about 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillet, then remove from the heat and remove the foil to check if the fish is fully cooked. If the thickest part of the fish is opaque, it is ready. Serve warm or at room temperature with cooked asparagus and warm hollandaise sauce.
For the hollandaise:
3 XL free-range egg yolks
15 ml (1 tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ml (1 teaspoon) Dijon mustard
a pinch of salt
125 g cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon warm water, optional
Find a small/medium pan or heatproof bowl that fits relatively snugly over a small saucepan/pot. Place the saucepan over low heat with water (about 4-5cm deep) and bring to a slow simmer.
Into the small pan, add the yolks, lemon juice, water, mustard and salt. Whisk to combine, then place over the saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly until it starts to heat up. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken, remove it from the heat and add a few cubes of butter, stirring until it starts to melt. Continue stirring until fully melted, returning it to the heat now and then. Continue this process until all the butter is incorporated and you have a thickened luscious sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a spoonful of warm water and stir to combine. Serve at once.
freshly pan-fried/steamed asparagus
a handful fresh dill
boiled/roasted baby potatoes (optional)
Serve the fish and asparagus with the freshly made hollandaise, and optionally more side dishes like potatoes. Plus of course, your bottle of Radford Dale Organic Touchstone Chardonnay!