We were lucky enough to have a little keg of McHenry and Sons whisky with us on the boat journey. Lucky for a few reasons, including the fact that a little whisky in the curing makes all the difference with this dish. As does the kind of smoke you use. I’ve adjusted the recipe a little from the one I did on the show, because this way you use less whisky, and taste it more. Smoking really is an inexact art that you will only master with practice. A small hot smoker is perfect for a fish this size, or you could use a covered kettle-style barbecue.
- 1 litre water
- 50 g salt
- 25 g sugar
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 whole freshwater trout (about 500 g)
- 1 nip (30 ml) whisky
- apple wood chips or other sweet wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained
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.
Cooling time 1 hour
Curing time 1 hour
Place half the water in a saucepan with the salt, sugar and bay leaf and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from the heat, then add the remaining water to help it cool down. When the brine is cooler than your hand, place the fish in a deep tray and pour the liquid over the top, making sure it is covered. Refrigerate for 45-60 minutes, then drain well. Drizzle the whisky over and inside the fish to finish the curing.
Preheat the smoker, then add the drained woodchips and place the fish on the rack inside the smoker. You want to cook the fish relatively gently, but still smoke it, so a low heat with plenty of smoke early on is the best
Smoke the fish for 30 minutes or until the fish flakes when gently pressed. It should have absorbed some of the smoke, and will already have some interesting stuff going on from the whisky and the brine. Allow to cool and pair with Nick's potato pancakes, or perhaps serve slightly warm, with just cooked new potatoes, or in a salad.
• You don’t have to use the best whisky in the world for this dish, as it’s only a bit player, not the complete star. That said, however, the better the whisky, the better the end result.
This recipe is from Gourmet Farmer Afloat.