Fishing the seasons
Whether it be fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry or fish, I continually look to the seasonal calendar to take advantage of each season’s abundant offerings. Eating the seasons not only means you can enjoy produce in its prime, but ingredients are more likely to be naturally and sustainably sourced.
Eating asparagus in January and strawberries in November is a concept I sometimes find hard to comprehend, and a clear sign of our modern, modified eating habits that demands all produce, all year round. Personally, I find something very exciting about seeing out seasons, and welcoming new ones, as we celebrate and enjoy its edible offerings for only a limited, precious amount of time.
To ensure sustainability, vast amounts of meat, poultry and fish are seasonally farmed, allowing consumer demands to be met, and for seasons to be stretched to their maximum. Trout is the prime example of such sustainable farming.
On the British Isles, and throughout Europe, we are most familiar with Sea trout; a fish adapted to living in both fresh and salt waters. As a ‘wild’ fish, sea trout has an acquired taste, often more dominant in flavour than it’s close relative, the brown or rainbow trout. Returning to our rivers during the summer and early autumn to spawn, it is during this time of year fishmongers are revelling in trout’s abundant stocks. It is therefore during these summer months that trout can be source readily and becomes more competitively priced for the consumer.
In recent years however, it is the rainbow variety that has become most popular with farmers, fishmongers and consumers alike. Although native to the US, the rainbow trout has swiftly become the most farmed variety of trout in the UK, with many organic farms encouraging stocks to flourish in recent years. Stock levels of this oil-rich fish have reached such a positive peak, organically farmed rainbow trout has swiftly become the most sustainably responsible variety to purchase.
With this in mind, I looked to create a summery recipe that took advantage of this abundant fish. With its beautiful multicoloured skin and shimmering scales, the rainbow trout sure is a stunning fish. Similar to that of salmon, rainbow trout boasts beautifully pale pink flesh that comes cleanly away from the bone once cooked; making it hassle-free, succulent treat.
When buying any fish ensure the eyes are bright, gills are red and it has a good sheen – in the case of rainbow trout its blue, green and pink tones should be distinct. Cooked on the bone, with head and tail intact, adds flavour and offers stability during baking. Trout has very distinct earthy flavours that marry perfectly with herbs such as thyme, and a subtle nuttiness that is enhanced with the addition of almonds. As a fairly rich flavoured fish, rainbow trout calls for a little acidity and bite, often helped with the use of citrus fruits. Additionally, I like to match it with the pepperiness of watercress to cut through the richness – check out my latest recipe for inspiration; Baked rainbow trout with avocado and watercress salsa.
This fish is a fantastic and cost-effective alternative to salmon. With half the calories and extremely low in fat, trout makes for a healthier option too. Enjoyed baked, fried, grilled or poached, this sustainably farmed, beautiful fish is delicious for alfresco dinning, family dinners or a decadent addition to any summer BBQ.
- 1 Trout – gutted but still on the bone
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 lemon
- Bunch of thyme
- 1 tbsp Fussels smoked rapeseed oil
- Handful of flaked almonds
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 small red onion
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 tbsp Fussels Peppered Watercress dressing
- Handful of fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Season the fish on both sides and place on a light greased baking tray. Stuff the fish with crushed garlic cloves, slices of lemon, and a couple sprigs of thyme. Scatter over the almonds and drizzle with a little smoked oil. Bake at 200c/Gas 5-6 for 20-25 minutes depending on the size.
- Whilst the trout is cooking, roughly chop the avocado and finely dice the onion and parsley. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl along with the watercress dressing and lemon before covering and leaving to chill in the fridge.
- Remove the fish from the oven when the skin is crispy and the flesh is just slightly firm to touch. Allow to rest for just a couple of minutes on the side before carefully removing the flesh from the bone. At this point, the skin can be removed and placed under a hot grill to make it really crisp.
- Serve the trout with the generous helping of avocado and watercress salsa, along with steamed seasonal greens or watercress salad.