Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Baked Trout

As I write to you this week it is Father’s Day. We are pretty happy with the Big Daddy in our house; his name is Dave Barrett, and we, his family unanimously agree that he is awesome. He is hunter, a fisherman, a gardener and the inspiration for my cooking.

This weekend he has been preparing the garden for spring planting and once he finishes that job he is off in search of a trout for dinner. Given that he is, among many great things, a fishing guide of international renown (see www.beguided.co.nz), we eat a lot of trout and the recipe for this week is his favourite.

But before we get to the cooking, I thought I would share a little information about NZ Trout. In New Zealand we have several trout species; none of them are native. From the late 1800s, British settlers introduced trout and salmon to New Zealand waters for sport and food.

Only three of the introduced species have really established themselves: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Brook Trout. Each of these has a self-sustaining wild population but the Brown and Rainbow trout population is also supplemented by a Fish and Game breeding programme, stocking some lakes and rivers to maintain numbers.

There was an attempt to do the same with the Chinook Salmon, but the cost was too high for an inconsistent return. We also have in New Zealand the Brook trout and the Tiger trout. The Brook is not a common fish but there are pockets of them around the North Island; is actually a char not a trout, but is still commonly called a trout. The Tiger trout is a sterile hybrid between a Brown and Brook Trout; these are bred and released by Fish and Game in the some of our local BOP lakes.

To catch a trout you need a licence; you can get a day, week or season licence from the Fish and Game website, from any sports shop and from lakeside stores. They are inexpensive and if you catch the fishing bug, they are good value for money. Around the BOP there are plenty of fish, so there is no problem with taking your catch for your dinner – however, there are bag limits that must be observed and there are rangers all over the place waiting to catch the poachers.

With lots of stony river bottoms and deep lakes around here, there trout taste delicious; the last time I had a muddy tasting trout was from a small, shallow, muddy lake in Te Urewera. Whatever you catch around the BOP should be deliciously sweet, particularly the sea-run brown trout at this time of the year who are hunting whitebait; it is easy to confuse them with salmon with their sliver appearance and orange flesh.  If you would like to take up fishing but do not know where to start, there are trout fishing clubs all over the country and either Google or your local sports shop will hook you up with your nearest one.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai

Baked Trout
Two boneless trout fillets or one salmon fillet (skin on)
-There are lots of videos on YouTube that teach how to fillet boneless.
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of ‘Made by Mawera’ Dill Seasoning or fresh dill or fennel tips, finely chopped
(I often collect fresh fennel from the river bank while fishing)
2-3 spring onions finely chopped (tops included)
1 clove of garlic, pressed or grated
pepper and salt to tast
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Place fillet, skin down on a baking tray
  3.  Mix ingredients in bowl and liberally coat the flesh side of the trout or salmon fillet.
  4. Bake 25 minutes until the topping is golden and bubbling with deliciousness.

Serve with a green salad, potatoes and veges

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