1 tsp eachof coriander seeds and white peppercorns100 gmwhite sugar100 gmsea salt flakes or Murray River pink salt3baby fennel bulbs, with frondsRind of1 lemon removed with a Microplane1small side ocean trout (about 1kg), belly fat trimmed, pin-bonedJuice of1 lemon, plus extra to serve50 mlPernod or anise-flavoured liqueurTo serve:extra-virgin olive oilGlazed chestnuts50 gmunsalted butter250 gmpeeled chestnuts1garlic clove1thyme sprig1 tspaged sherry vinegar300 mlchicken stock
Dry-roast spices until they pop (1-2 minutes), then transfer to a bowl with sugar, salt, 1 cup (loosely packed) fennel fronds and lemon rind. Mix well and set aside.
Place trout in a non-reactive tray, then rub with sugar mixture, covering both sides evenly. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate until lightly cured (12-18 hours). Remove fish from curing mixture, wipe excess away with a cloth, then wrap trout in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Trout will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days.
For glazed chestnuts, heat a deep-sided frying pan over low heat. Add butter, then chestnuts, garlic and thyme and sauté until nuts are golden (2-4 minutes). Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, deglaze pan with sherry vinegar. Add stock, bring to a simmer, then cover closely with a round of baking paper that has a small hole in the centre. Cook until nuts are tender and glazed (5-10 minutes). Cool to room temperature, discard thyme and garlic, halve larger nuts, keeping smaller ones whole, set aside.
Trim dark green stalks from fennel (discard), reserve remaining fronds. Combine lemon juice, Pernod, 1 litre chilled water and ice cubes in a bowl. Thinly slice fennel with a mandolin into water and stand until crisp (3-5 minutes), then drain and pat dry with absorbent paper. Before serving, drizzle with oil, season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground white pepper and lemon juice, add nuts and toss gently to combine.
Thinly slice trout across the fillet at a 45-degree angle with a sharp, long, thin knife, starting at the head and working toward the tail. Divide fennel, chestnuts and sliced trout among plates and serve immediately, scattered with reserved fennel fronds and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Note Use the best-quality ocean trout you can find. Mark Best prefers to use Petuna.
This recipe is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
I could go on all day about the best way to peel a chestnut. The reality is we buy excellent pre-peeled nuts from Victoria, saving a lot of time and burnt fingers. If you cannot find them, use a peeling method you are familiar with. When it comes to slicing fennel, I think a mandolin is the best tool for the job. They are cheap but dangerous, so be careful. Adding Pernod to the acidulated water replaces any anise flavour lost through soaking. You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. - Mark Best
At A Glance
Serves 8 people
At A Glance
Serves 8 people
Austrian riesling for its steely purity, minerality and length on the palate due to its great texture.