Thursday, 15 September 2011

Alien Invaders

1.       I don’t really like salmon.
2.      I don’t even really like smoked salmon.
Maybe there are other people on a fish mission. Like me, they’re probably trying hard to like fish. People who don’t like fish are placed in the “hasn’t quite grown up yet/ hasn’t acquired any taste” camp. They sit alongside the other children people who don’t like red wine or olives. A lover of the good life would surely think to themselves: “Oh, she doesn’t like fish. Isn’t that unconscionable! Isn’t that quaint!” They’d chuckle and easily patronise me in their minds.
So, I’ve been on a mission: to make my tastes come of age. I’ve found a fish that you should try if you see it—smoked trout. It has very large flakes like cod, so the texture melts but doesn’t fall apart. It is brined before it is smoked, giving the non fish lover comfort, as it has the familiar scent of bacon. As it is already cooked, there is no "AHH! I never cook fish. How do I cook it?" panic. Simply warm it.

On its own, the colour makes smoked trout look like an anemic cousin of salmon. I prefer to think of it as subtler. The basil sprig is cheesy, but it needed a colour contrast, I felt. This was the amount of smoked trout from one whole trout, which was about 8 inches long. It cost £3 and was enough for two large portions.
Smoked trout also marries well with other fish classics: tartar sauce, new potatoes and peas. Especially if you're on a bit of a fish mission, there's no need to go more exotic, the fish is powerful enough.

If you really don’t like fish, mix it with some crème fraiche or cream cheese for a smooth, rich dip for bread.

And if you’re lucky, as I was, the fishmonger likes that you ask questions and offers you some free crayfish, hoping your custom will be returned. As American crayfish in British waters, like many non-native species, they have flourished and imposed themselves on the meeker, resigning British crayfish. So, now British fisherman and ecologists want the alien invaders out. They’re sweet, soft and quite complex in flavour. They don't just look like langoustines or lobsters, they taste that way. You play with the claws and bash them to get to the fine meat. Add a Marie Rose sauce (ketchup and mayonaise) and the smoked trout and you’ll feel like you’ve had a summer-y, seaside meal in France, or wherever they do things right and perfect.

Clockwise from left: crayfish, Marie Rose sauce, smoked trout, new potatoes, peas, tartar sauce.

Let me know if you can help me further on my fish mission.

The main claw on our right is very sharp. These crayfish are a bit like medieval knights: fearsome attacking sword on one side, shield for defense on the other.


  1. I'm pleased that it doesn't scare you. Its obviously not quite the alien invader it can be for me.