Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gut-wrenching experiences

In an attempt to always 'look my food in the eye' and really appreciate where it has come from and what it has given up for me, today involved a trip to the trout farm. OK, so it's not as 'hunter gatherer' as hitting the high seas or a wild river for my fish, but I'm still an L plater when it comes to the fishing thing and today was about learning how to catch and gut, not just sitting on a riverbank for hours on end.
If you want the beginners 'how to' of both catching your dinner and getting it 'table ready', then I recommend the easy way in of the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm in Victoria's glorious Dandenongs.
Here, we spent the day getting used to rods and bait- with the added bonus of having people to ask if we got stuck, as well as all the equipment supplied for us. The best part is, unless you're really unlucky, it's a guaranteed catch.
So, after landing one or two in the small ponds to get the hang of it, we headed to 'the big lake' for some more challenging angling and after 2.5 hours we're covered in blood, sweaty, a little bit sunburnt and we've landed 6 trout- 5 smaller ones to bake whole and a a huge one from the 'big'uns' pond. Ripper.
But here's the gross- our caretaker Ben is going to show us how to gut our own, so that in the event that we do take to the river life, we don't have to rely on others to sort out the nasty bits.
Suprisingly for this on-again-off-again vegetarian it wasn't too bad. See, I may not have been able to give up meat, but as a result I feel that it's only fair to put myself through the discomfort of preparing it (where I can) in order to really appreciate it. The idea being that if I can't do that, then I have no right to indulge. Mmmm, tasty.
A slit down the belly and some gills, lungs and intestines later, we've got table ready trout and yep, I'm also still prepared to eat them. Better yet, I've got heads, tails and some unexpected roe for soups, stocks and much more besides. Back at home, we kept it as simple as possible to enjoy all the flavour of the catch.

Salt-baked Trout with smashed potatoes and parsley-lemon salad

In a large baking dish bury two whole trout in enough rock-salt to completely cover them. Bake in a 200degC oven for 40mins, or until a test skewer comes out hot. The salt will form a hard crust, crack it open, remove the fish and serve in portions dusting off as much salt as possible.
While the fish is cooking, parboil some baby potatoes, then lightly smash them so they break open. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven with fish until crispy.

Wash and de-stem 3 large handfuls of flat-leaf parsley, slice 2 lemons into wedges (removing all pith), combine with olive oil and 1/2 tsp smokey paprika. Serve as a salad with the fish and potatoes.

No comments: