This is a lovely dish for warmer nights spent gathered around the barbecue. The fish will be wonderfully charry and the aniseed flavour in the sauce adds a slight sweet and warm flavour.
- 4 whole small river trout, approximately 300 g each
- 1 lemon, cut into thin rounds
- 1 medium bulb of fennel, fronds kept and the bulb finely sliced on a mandolin
- 1 bunch thyme
- 100 g almond meal
- 3 tsp aniseed, toasted and finely ground
- 200 ml water
- 2 egg yolks
- 200 ml olive oil, light extra virgin olive oil
- lemon wedges
- extra-virgin oil for drizzling
- river salt and white pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Take each fish, giving them a little wipe down if they are slimy, rub with some olive oil and season them well on their skin and on the inside. Into the cavity you want to place some lemon slices, fennel fronds and thyme. Set aside.
Place the sliced bulb fennel into a bowl, season with a little salt and lemon juice. Set aside.
Into a small saucepan place the almond meal, aniseed and water. Put over a gentle heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring very regularly; add an extra splash of water if it starts to look too thick.
Transfer the almond meal mix into a blender, add a nice amount of salt and a little white pepper and buzz on high for a good couple of minutes. Once the mix starts to look smooth, turn the blender down, add the yolks and then slowly, while the blender is still on, incorporate the oil in a thin steady stream. Once all the oil is in, buzz the mix again on high for another minute and then check for seasoning. You may need a little more salt. Ideally the sauce should be quite smooth but this will depend on the strength of your blender.
Now to the fish, this is best cooked on your barbecue on the flat grill. Make sure it’s very hot before gently laying the fish down on one side and cooking for about 2-3 minutes before carefully turning the fish over and repeating on the other side. Pull it of fthe grill and allow it to rest for a moment while you prepare your plates.
Spoon a nice amount of almond sauce over four individual plates. Get your fennel, give it a little squeeze and divide it between each plate, arranging it nicely over the almond sauce. On top of this, lay each fish and drizzle with a little olive oil to finish. Serve with a lemon wedge.
• Pink fleshed fish works best for this dish as its strong flavour stands up to the richness of the almond sauce. However, as always when choosing your seafood, let the availability and quality of the produce be your main guide.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Peta Gray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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This recipe is part of The Seasonal Cook: Almonds column.
View previous The Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.