As you know we’re lucky enough to have had 2-Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw cooking us a Cornish Seafood Feast in Bristol, celebrating the publication of his new book, Everyday Seafood (Quadrille). Here’s a recipe from the book to whet your appetite. It’s based around sea trout, a migratory fish whose arrival in spring is greeted by foodies with as much excitement as the first asparagus. Says Nathan: “Wild sea trout is, for me, a delicacy. I actually prefer it to salmon and find that it responds particularly well to curing.” Being a gin fan, I like the fact the trout is cured in gin too. “Using strong alcohol in the cure helps to achieve a pronounced flavour and the combination of gin, apple and fennel works well,” says Nathan. Picture by David Loftus.
Gin-cured sea trout with apple and fennel
Serves 6 as a starter
1 very fresh side of wild sea trout, skinned and pin- boned
For the cure
250g sea salt
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
For the salad and dressing
200ml olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
4 juniper berries, finely chopped
100ml cider vinegar
2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed
3 eating apples, such as Braeburn
3 tsp finely sliced tarragon
For the cure, put the salt, sugar and crushed juniper berries into a food processor and blitz for 3 minutes.
Lay the sea trout on a tray and sprinkle evenly with the cure mixture. Turn the fish over in the cure a few times to ensure it is coated all over. Drizzle the gin evenly over the fish, then wrap the whole tray in cling film and place in the fridge to cure for 4 hours.
When the time is up, unwrap the fish and wash off the cure with cold water, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Wrap the fish tightly in fresh cling film and place back in the fridge for an hour to firm up. (At this stage you can freeze the fish for up to a month).
To make the dressing, put the olive oil, shallots and chopped juniper berries in a small pan over a medium heat until the oil just begins to bubble. Take the pan off the heat and add the cider vinegar and gin.
Slice the fennel on a mandoline as thinly as possible and place it in a bowl. Peel, core and grate the apples, then add to the fennel with the tarragon. Toss to combine and dress the salad with half of the dressing, keeping the rest to finish the dish.
Using a sharp knife and a clean board, slice the trout as thinly as possible. Lay it out on large individual plates and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Bring to room temperature before serving.