Though excellent quality smoked trout can be purchased from delis and speciality stores, it is also a surprising easy thing to do yourself. The flavour of the smoked trout is wonderfully complimented by pepian sauce, a southern Mexican speciality usually made from toasted pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds, or a mixture the two. The toasted seeds give a beautiful, nutty flavour to the sauce, with just a hint of heat from the chilli pequin.
- 2 cups smoking chips (see Note)
- 2 rainbow trout, cleaned (see Note)
Salsa pepian (see Note)
- 100 g tomato
- 500 g tomatillo or green tomato
- 100 g white onion
- 60 g hulled pumpkin seeds
- 60 g sesame seeds
- 3 allspice
- 2 pequin chillies
- salt, to taste
- 20 tostadas or lightly salted tortilla chips
- ½ cup julienned spring onion
- ½ cup julienned firm mango
- ½ cup thinly sliced French shallot
- 6 small red chillies, seeded and julienned
- 6 small green chillies, seeded and julienned
- ½ cup julienned red radish
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.
Soaking time 2 hours
Place the smoking chips in a non-reactive bowl and cover with water. Soak for at least 2 hours or as recommended by the manufacturer. Drain and shake off any excess water.
Place the chips in the base of a smoking box. Put the lid on, then place the box over medium-high heat for 5–10 minutes or until the chips start to smoke.
Remove the lid and place the trout on the highest rack of the smoker, then place the lid on immediately. Turn the heat down to medium and smoke the trout for 8–10 minutes, without removing the lid.
Remove the lid and check the fish is cooked by pressing gently at the flesh at the back of the head. If it is firm with a little give when pressed, it is ready. Remove the trout and let cool.
When fully cooled, remove the skin from the trout then gently remove the flesh, discarding any bones as you go. Try to keep the pieces of fish as large as possible for presentation. Reserve.
To make the salsa, place the tomato, tomatillo and onion in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. At about 5 minutes, or as each item softens, remove and place in a blender. (The tomatillo will usually take 2 minutes more than the tomato, the onion slightly longer still.)
Warm a 25 cm frying pan over medium heat and toast the pumpkin seeds, tossing or stirring frequently, until golden and puffed up. Transfer to the blender.
In the same pan, toast the sesame seeds. When nearly golden, add the allspice and pequin chilli. Add to the blender, then add salt and puree for 2 minutes or until very smooth. Check seasoning and reserve.
Line up the tostadas on a tray and top each piece with a smear of pepian salsa. Place a small portion of smoked trout on each, then garnish with the julienned vegetables and serve immediately.
• Smoking chips are available from barbecue stores and speciality food shops. Apple or hickory chips are recommended.
• To give the trout the most time for the smoke flavour to infuse without over-cooking the fish, ensure the trout is well chilled to begin.
• This pepian base works wonderfully for our canapé of smoked trout tostadas, but to serve in its more common form as a sauce you can simply add chicken stock and seasoning until the paste has a more sauce like consistency. Serve with chicken, prawns, pork or steamed vegetables.