It has taken many months, but we are finally in our new Brooklyn apartment with a wonderful new kitchen that I have been putting to good use, as promised. As Nick and I started our relationship cooking from recipes from the Australian chef Bill Granger, I decided to look through Granger’s book Bill’s Sydney Food for inspiration. Partly because Granger’s food is so simple, but also because of a great recipe style, I have never cooked something from one of his recipes that wasn’t fantastic, and this smoked trout with potato salad was easy to make and extremely delicious. Partly due to taste, and partly due to necessity, I have altered the recipe here a bit…
Smoked trout and potato salad
(Makes enough for 4-5)
100ml (just under half a cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (the juice of one half is used for the dressing, the juice of the other half will be mixed with mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 small (American) shallot, finely chopped (eschalot in Australian – see below for discussion)*
1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots (American: scallions)
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
salt and pepper
500g (1lb) unpeeled potatoes (get good boiling potatoes if you can)
Salad leaves (a baby salad mix or some roughly chopped watercress would both be good) – you want to have one handful per person, so around four handfuls
Smoked trout – Granger says 250g (8oz), but I used however much was on a whole smoked trout
Before you begin you should set a large pot of salted water to boil for the potatoes. The first thing to be done is making the dressing – if, like me, you save your jars, the best way to make any dressing is to put the ingredients in a jar, secure the lid, and give it a good shake to mix the ingredients. Pour the olive oil, vinegar, juice of half the lemon and chopped (American) shallot into a jar and shake to combine. If you don’t have a jar, just whisk everything together in a large bowl, though make sure that the oil hasn’t separated before serving. The original recipe did without the (American) shallot, and had garlic instead, but our garlic had turned nasty and soft, hence the substitution. I did, however, also add a tablespoon or so of roasted garlic olive oil, though not enough that the taste made a great difference. Add the shallots (scallions), mint, celery, a pinch of salt and some pepper, shake and put to one side. [I know the shallots/scallions things is confusing, but even if you mix them up here, it won’t make much difference.]
When the water is boiling, add the potatoes, with skins on (though make sure to give them a good wash if they are still dirty). We accidentally boiled the potatoes after having peeled them, which resulted in their surfaces turning all funny and breaking away a little. However, peeling the potato in advance does save you from having to peel a hot and much softer potato at the end, so I do not altogether recommend against it. To test whether the potatoes are ready insert a skewer or thin but sharp knife into their centres – the potato should be a bit firm, but not offer too much resistance. When they are done, drain them and leave them for 5 mins or so to cool down a little before peeling them and slicing them into rounds about a centimetre thick.
While the potatoes are still warm toss them with the dressing in a large bowl. If there was ever one tip I had to give about making a good potato salad, this would be it – as the warm potatos soak up the dressing, retaining its flavour all the way through. Throw in the salad leaves, and mix together. Whole fish are such beautiful things, and if you have bought a trout in a state resembling the one above, then you will need to peel the skin away from the flesh, and then carefully remove the flesh from the bones. Trouts have lots of fine little bones that can be irritating to eat, so put special care into trying to get them all out (sometimes tweezers can be useful for this job). You can mix the trout into the salad, or serve it on top.
The final step is to add mayonnaise – I mixed some good mayonnaise with the juice of the other half of the lemon from before, which also helped to thin it out a little, making it easier to drizzle over the salad. It is a perfect summer meal, and can keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days or even be taken to picnics.
*I had never heard of these shallots before coming to America, but I have subsequently seen them in Australia, so I know they are available. They look (and taste) like a cross between an onion and garlic, usually having one or two sections that resemble large cloves. They are wonderfully delicious and, finely sliced, can add a nice edge mixed into an omelette or scrambled eggs.