The cheat: hot-smoked trout

From a light and tasty salad to an Asian-inspired broth or a perfectly satisfying pasta, make hot-smoked trout a fridge staple for quick yet elegant meals.

Hot-smoked trout is a great standby for last-minute meals. It keeps well - up to a month unopened - so is handy to have on hand in the fridge.

There are different styles of smoked trout: whole rainbow or brown trout, which have a slightly more delicate flavour and texture, and fillets of hot-smoked ocean trout. These are interchangeable; a little bit of either goes a long way regardless. Hot-smoked trout is cooked through and the smoke infuses the flesh; liquid is lost as it cooks and the natural oils and flavour in the fish are concentrated. (The less common cold-smoked version, on the other hand, retains moisture and the smoke only permeates the top layer of flesh.)

Try smoked trout with a dish of boiled potatoes with lemon and mustard dressing, or serve it on top of stewed beans with almonds. It's especially good with pasta, roast tomatoes and basil, too.

For something more Asian-inspired we love flaked trout in a dashi broth with udon noodles, or mixed with salty, sweet, sour and spicy Thai flavours in a salad. And pulsed in a food processor with herbs and crème fraîche it makes a quick dip to serve with toasts.

Smoked trout, pickled beetroot and tomato salad
Serves 4 as a light meal (pictured)
Cook 2 beetroot (400gm) in salted simmering water until tender (30-40 minutes). Drain, peel, cut into chunks and combine in a bowl with 150ml red wine vinegar, 50gm caster sugar, 2 tsp sea salt and 100ml warm water and stand for at least an hour to pickle. In another bowl, toss 200gm assorted tomatoes sliced or halved, 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts, juice of ½ orange, 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and a hot-smoked trout, fillets flaked (320gm). Scatter on a plate with pickled beetroot and serve with a scoop of natural yoghurt and top with torn dill.

Smoked trout, potato and preserved lemon salad
Serves 4
Cook 600gm peeled Dutch cream potatoes in boiling salted water until tender (10-15 minutes). Drain, chop and set aside to cool slightly. Add 120gm aïoli, 120gm sour cream, ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, finely diced rind of a preserved lemon, 2 finely chopped golden shallots, and the flaked fillets (320gm) of a hot-smoked trout, toss to combine, season to taste and serve.

Pea and lettuce broth with smoked trout
Serves 4
Heat 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add 4 finely diced golden shallots and sauté until tender (3-4 minutes). Add 1 litre chicken stock, 3 cups shredded baby gem lettuce, 3 cups peas, 2 tbsp each chervil and torn basil, bring to the boil, then season to taste. Steam 3 fillets (200gm each) hot-smoked ocean trout to heat through, then flake and place in bowls. Ladle broth over, squeeze in some lemon juice and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Cavatelli with smoked trout, white wine and crème fraîche
Serves 4
Cook 350gm dried cavatelli in boiling salted water until al dente (7-9 minutes). Meanwhile, heat 30gm butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add 2 diced golden shallots and 1 crushed garlic clove, stir until tender (2-3 minutes). Add 125ml dry white wine, bring to the boil for a minute, then stir in flaked fillets (160gm) of ½ smoked trout, 3 tbsp crème fraîche, some chopped spring herbs such as chervil or tarragon and 1 tbsp pasta water. Season to taste and serve hot over drained pasta.

Hot tips
+ To remove the fillets from a whole trout, remove the skin, then the top fillet. Lift the head up and away from the body to take the spine away from the remaining fillet. Use tweezers to remove the finer remaining bones.

+ To reheat smoked trout steam it gently in a steamer over a pan of simmering water; this prevents the meat drying out, since it's already cooked.


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