Quick Smoked Sea Trout with Leeks Vinaigrette, Crispy Air-dried Ham and Horseradish Cream
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a light main course or lunch
These are a few of my favourite ingredients interweaved into this one recipe. I can hear you cry: “yet another complicated recipe!”, so I apologise loudly and proudly my friends for this long recipe, but please take snippets you like from this recipe and make your own version – she says with a sigh of relief, sitting back in her seat and muttering under her breath, “thankfully that one is dealt with…” No, I am not going crazy and I am not slightly weird, I am just talking to myself – I find self-talk is the best means to motivate myself. I often hear Mr P shouting through the bathroom door “Maddy, Maddy, who are you talking to?” My response is simply, “I am talking to myself, as I am the only one that listens!’ I can hear him chuckle as he walks away.
This quick smoked method is one I used in my cookbook in a few recipes; it’s very effective and delicious, and it does not break the bank as you don’t need any specialist equipment. I would recommend though that you vent the kitchen well when using this quick smoke technique, as it can get quite smoky.
Fresh sea trout is almost like salmon and if you cannot find any, simply replace it with fresh salmon. The crispy air-dried ham brings a salty taste and crispy texture to the dish that works beautifully with the slightly sharp leeks in vinaigrette and the mild but aromatic horseradish cream.
Ingredients & Method
For the quick smoked sea trout
- 12 dried juniper berries
- 25g sea salt
- 50g soft dark brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 4 x 125g skinless, boneless sea trout fillets
- 300g long-grain white rice
- 100ml cold water
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
For the horseradish cream
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
- 1 teaspoon Aspall Cyder Vinegar, slightly warmed
- 125ml double cream
- a pinch of caster sugar
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the leeks vinaigrette
- 25ml Aspall Cyder Vinegar
- 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
- a small pinch of caster sugar
- 75ml sunflower oil
- 4 large leeks
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
For the crispy air-dried ham
- 4 slices air-dried ham of your choice (such as Parma Ham, prosciutto or Serrano ham)
First, marinade the trout ready for smoking. Use a pestle and mortar to crush 6 of the juniper berries, the salt, brown sugar, garlic and chopped thyme together to form a coarse paste. Rub the paste into the sea trout fillets, massaging it into the fish. Place the fish on a plate, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour, to allow the flavours to develop before smoking the trout.
While the trout is marinating, put 200g of the rice into a bowl, cover with the measured water and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
Prepare the horseradish cream (this can be made a day in advance, if you like – simply keep it in a covered bowl in the fridge until needed). Put the horseradish into a small bowl, pour over the warmed vinegar, then cover with cling film and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. In another bowl, whisk the cream, sugar, lemon zest and juice and salt and black pepper together until just thickened. Stir in the horseradish and vinegar, mix and then cover and refrigerate until needed.
For the leeks vinaigrette, first prepare the vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients, except the leeks and rapeseed oil, in a small, clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, season to taste with salt and black pepper and shake the jar vigorously to combine the ingredients. Set aside until the leeks are ready.
Wash and drain the leeks, cut them in half lengthways and then trim them to about 15cm lengths, leaving the roots on to make it easier so that they do not fall apart (keep the trimmings for another recipe or for a stock).
Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, season the leeks with salt and black pepper, then place them, cut-sides down, in the hot pan and leave them to colour until quite dark and nearly charred. Turn them over and repeat the process on the other side – altogether this should take 7–8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour over the vinaigrette, then set the pan aside to allow the leeks to absorb the vinaigrette and leave them to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, smoke the trout. Once you are ready to smoke the trout, you will need to make a smoker using a deep roasting tin, a wire cooling rack and some foil. Line the roasting tin with a layer of foil, then spread the soaked rice (water and all, if the rice has not soaked up all the water), the remaining 6 juniper berries and the sprigs of thyme over the foil. Sprinkle the remaining 100g of dry (unsoaked) rice over the top, then position the cooling rack over the rice mixture. Place the marinated trout fillets on to the cooling rack.
Place the roasting tin on the hob over a high heat and start the smoking process. Heat until the rice starts to smoke. Cover the whole thing with a tent of foil and keep it over the heat for a further 2–3 minutes, then turn the heat off, remove from the heat and leave the trout to smoke for 5 minutes. Return the roasting tin to the heat to create more smoke, and then remove it from the heat again once enough smoke has built up. Leave to smoke for a further 5 minutes, then let the trout cool completely on the rack in the roasting tin (leaving the whole thing covered with foil until cold). Once smoked, the trout will become a dark pink colour and the outside will be slightly dried out.
For the crispy air-dried ham, preheat the grill to high, place the ham slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and then grill until crispy, about 2 minutes on each side (watch the ham carefully to prevent it from catching or burning). Remove from the heat, transfer the ham to a wire rack and leave to cool; once it cools down, it will crisp up.
To serve, it’s best to serve the trout and leeks slightly warm or at room temperature. Spoon a tablespoon of the horseradish cream on to each plate, spread it out with the back of a spoon, then arrange 2 pieces of drained leeks on each plate. Place a smoked trout fillet on to each plate, followed by a slice of the crispy air-dried ham. Finally, drizzle over a little of the warm vinaigrette from the leeks pan. Serve with lightly dressed fresh green pea shoots or salad leaves and buttered crusty brown bread.