You can prepare the hot-smoked trout a day ahead.
- 170 gm sea salt flakes (1 cup)
- 110 gm brown sugar (½ cup)
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 side of ocean trout (about 1.1kg), pin-boned
- 300 gm woodchips, such as mesquite or hickory, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour, drained
- 250 gm crème fraîche
- ½ cup herbs, such as dill, chives and flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (firmly packed)
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon, juice of ½
- 1Whisk salt, sugar, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and 2 litres water in a bowl to combine, submerge trout fillet and refrigerate until lightly brined (6-8 hours). Remove trout from brine, pat dry with absorbent paper and set aside on a wire rack to dry slightly and form a skin (1-1½ hours; see note).
- 2Meanwhile, preheat a coal-bedded kettle barbecue to low heat and set up for indirect grilling (see note). Add one-quarter of woodchips around coals and cook until smoke appears. Place trout on rack skin-side down, cover and smoke, adding extra woodchips as required, until cooked through (30-40 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- 3Meanwhile, for herb crème fraîche, whisk ingredients in a bowl to combine, and season to taste. Serve with flaked smoked trout.
Note Drying the trout after brining creates a skin, called a pellicle, that helps seal in the moisture before smoking the fish. Indirect grilling is cooking away from the heat, using the top rack. It's important to have your coal base well established and glowing before adding woodchips.
Drink Suggestion: Light, lean cool-climate chardonnay or Chablis. Drink suggestion by Max Allen