Adventures in trout: side a
Did you know that a trout can look and focus out of both corners of each eye simultaneously, meaning that it can see in almost every direction at once? That they’re one of the most genetically diverse vertebrates around, with more genetic variation present across British populations of wild brown trout than between any populations of the entire human race? AND they’ve got teeth on the roof of the mouth, did you know THAT? Terrifying. We should eat them all now, before they become our scaly, evil overlords.
Through an exchange I can’t quite piece together, I have a large (thankfully dead) trout. I also have a medium-sized hangover which goes someway to explaining the confusion, but essentially I think I asked the fishmonger for two whole fillets rather than two portions, and having watched him dutifully gut, scale and fillet a 2kg fish (during which time I said nothing, natch), panic bought the lot. Like the quintessentially polite, awkward, hungover British idiot that I am. The trout was already a whimsical buy. I went in for a crab, see? I didn’t have a plan for two portions, never mind a whole fish. But when life gives you lots of trout (for twenty three polite, awkward, hungover British-idiot pounds), you just have to roll up your sleeves, schlepp home, ask Twitter for help, spend two hours gathering ingredients that aren’t trout, bully your friend into letting you use the Weber (more on which in another post), rediscover the wonder that is BOURSIN!!!, repeatedly shout “BOURSIN!!!” at your poor, bullied, BBQ-possessing friend in a gravelly French accent, all while trying not to vomit. Then you get to eat a lot of trout. And Google trout facts (thank you www.wildtrout.org for those).
So, trout stuffed with BOURSIN!!! wrapped in ham
Aka, hurrah the 70s! Or maybe the 80s, we couldn’t agree. Total guilty pleasure cooking, but wonderfully presentable and really bloody tasty. Thank you Shaan for the inspiration, I’m absolutely making this again. For a test run things were kept pretty basic, simply sandwiching Boursin between two hunks of fish before applying a sheath of shingled pancetta – and it was ruddy delicious – but if, nay, WHEN I make it again, I’ll brine the fish and use prosciutto instead. Here’s how.
800g piece of trout or salmon, a thick-ish fillet with the thinnest tail bit chopped off
1 pack original Garlic & Herb Boursin
12-16 slices of prosciutto – long pieces of Parma ham would work well
A slosh of olive oil for frying
For the brine
Dissolve 2tbsp salt in 200ml boiling water, top up with ice and cold water to 1.75l. Ensure the brine is very cold before using.
Slice the trimmed fillet in half down the length of the fish to create two long pieces and place in the chilled brine for 20 minutes – use the right sized vessel to ensure the fish is covered (or scale the brine up a bit – SCALE! Geddit?). While the fish is brining, shingle the ham into a neat little bed as the fish fillets. Remove the fish from the brine, pat dry with kitchen towel and place one half down in the centre of the delicious, hammy bed. Sprinkle with pepper, layer with slices of BOURSIN!!! and allow yourself a little triumphant jig, for you are doing good things. Place the other fillet on top in a top-to-tail fashion to try and keep the overall shape nice and even. Turn the hammy bed into a hammy coat by tightly by neatly wrapping it around the fish, ensuring that the ends end up tucked underneath.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, then heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (big enough to sear the fish) – get it nice and hot, yeah? Carefully sear the fish to start to crisp the ham (this should take around 8 minutes with some turning), then place on a baking sheet in the oven for 6-10 minutes (I had to slice it down the middle to check it was cooked – you want it a little translucent, and remember it’ll carry on cooking for a few minutes once you’ve taken it out). And that’s basically it. Garlicky, hammy fish, with ooze and succulence and crispy pig. So very wrong that it’s entirely and emphatically right. BOF.