The combinations here are ever so posh. Cucumber and watercress sandwiches with smoked rainbow trout. Perfect after a spot of tennis, lazing on the porch with a nice G and T. Remember these little freshwater trout have delicate flesh and very fine bones. This makes them fiddly, but relatively easy to fillet compared to bigger fish. You can ask your fishmonger to fillet them for you.
1 loaf rye bread (the best you can find)
2 small Lebanese cucumbers
100g soft butter
1 bunch of watercress, leaves, picked and washed
2 x 300g whole rainbow trout, filleted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g plain yoghurt, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
400ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
500ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 300g smoked rainbow trout, skinned and flaked
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish
salt and pepper
For the rillettes, using a razor-sharp knife, make an incision in each fresh rainbow trout from the back of the head to past the front fin. Then, first run the knife down the spine from the head going down towards the tail. Reverse the knife and zip back up towards the head. Cut through the rib cage and remove the fillet.
Because the flesh is so soft and delicate, don’t flip the fish over as you would for a more robust beast. Simply make an incision at the tail end and run your knife up the spine, keeping the blade flat and close to the bone and remove the whole skeleton, including the head. Then slide the knife under the rib bones, removing as little flesh as possible.
Pin-bone the fresh trout using fish tweezers, being very careful to remove all bones.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray. Arrange the four fish fillets skin side down on top. Add a few tablespoons of water and some seasoning. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 4–5 minutes. The fish should be rare at the thickest point. Allow to cool.
Drain off the excess juice. Turn the fillets over and peel off the skin, then remove any dark flesh. Tear the fish into small pieces or flake with a fork.
Put the butter and yoghurt in a mixing bowl and hand-whisk until the mixture becomes fluffy. Alternatively, you can use an electric mixer or food processor. Add the egg yolk and a little of the lemon juice. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil and then add the rest of the lemon juice.
Fold through the flaked smoked fish, chives and horseradish. Test for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Slice the rye bread thinly. Thinly slice the cucumbers and season lightly with salt so the cucumber wilts slightly. Butter the bread generously and layer on the cucumber and watercress. Cut the sandwiches into random lengths and serve alongside the rillettes.
Encourage your guests to thickly spread the rillettes onto the sandwiches and eat with their fingers.
This is an edited extract from Cooked: Food for Friends published by Hardie Grant ,$24.99, available in stores nationally.
Recipe: Philippa Sibley, New Classics / Photograph: Mark Roper