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ISSUE 23 ARCHIVE - COOKING THE CATCH

Andy Maxwell

Inland (adjective): situated in the interior of a country rather than on the coast.

Surely the ultimate definition of 'inland' is in land. As in, inside the land... i.e. caves, right?

My open water diver certification card is a very rare thing in fact, I'm sure it should be in a museum. There are only 25 like it in the entire world: it contains the name of my instructor: Paul V Toomer, OWSI. Yes, that's right, Paul V Toomer, Open Water Scuba Instructor. In fact, just a few weeks prior to that, Paul was still a Divemaster... It was a memorable experience. It was Datchet in September 1997. It was murky. It was muddy. It was smelly. It was friggin' awesome.

A few weeks later, we were amongst a small but lucky group of people to try out a new lake, just a few miles up the road, for a night dive. We turned in through a rusty gate onto the grass, wheels spinning and mud flying everywhere... with car headlights lighting up the area as we used hacksaws and machetes to cut through the bushes around the side of the lake, we did what I think must have been our first night dive, no, THE first night dive ever at a little known inland lake called Wraysbury. Andy Darby (aka Lard Spice) was my Advanced Open Water course instructor that night... and so it was: my first ever inland UK dive experience was Datchet, and my second was Wraysbury. Lucky me.

Granted, since then, things have improved a little. Inland these days means the Cenotes in (switch on silly Spanish accent now) Mehico. Datchet: the perfect preparation for cave diving. (Actually it really is!)

And now for the somewhat tenuous link to a recipe: inland diving in the UK: inland fish: trout.

At Tante Marie Culinary Academy, we get our professional course students to fillet the trout, so this dish is a good test of skill but you can perfectly easily buy trout fillets. The real skill of course is in making a beautiful beurre blanc: a test in itself. That said, this is a dish not to mess around with too much because it is simply delicious.

Herb Crusted Trout with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Vegetable Spaghetti

  • 1 trout, filleted and skinned
  • 2 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 1tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1tbsp chopped thyme
  • 4tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf, finely chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter

For the beurre blanc:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 salt and black pepper

For the vegetable spaghetti:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1⁄4 of a large mouli
  • 1 courgette
  • 15g butter
  • Salt & black pepper to taste

1 Coat the trout fillets in the seasoned flour then in beaten egg; allow the excess to drain off.

2 Mix all the herbs together and coat one side of each fillet using approximately half the herbs.

3 To make the beurre blanc: Put the lemon juice, shallot, wine and vinegar in a small saucepan. Boil to reduce to one tablespoon.

4 Reduce the heat and whisk in the lemon zest and the butter a little at a time. It is important that each cube of butter is mixed in before adding the next.

5 The sauce must not be allowed to become too hot or it will separate. Taste and adjust the seasoning and keep it warm in a bowl over a pan of hot water.

6 For the vegetable spaghetti; Peel the carrot and cut into long, fine strips. Peel the mouli and cut in the same way. Wash the courgette and cut into long, fine strips, leaving the skin on for colour. It is vital that care is taken to ensure that all of the vegetables are cut to the same size and thickness, and that they look neat and elegant.

7 Blanch the vegetables separately in a pan of boiling salted water, cooking each one until just tender and then refreshing immediately in iced water.

8 Heat the unsalted butter in a large frying pan, when it is frothing put the fish in, herb coated side down. Cook until golden brown.

9 Sprinkle the remaining herbs over the plain side of the fish. Carefully turn them over and cook until golden brown.

10 Drain the vegetable spaghetti very well. Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the vegetable spaghetti and salt and black pepper, and cook very quickly until the vegetables are hot. Serve immediately, placing the vegetables on the plate first, followed by a piece of fish, topped with the warm beurre blanc.

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