With the opening of Trout season we thought this article was rather timely….
I once had some friends who owned a holiday house in Kinloch, a resort community twenty kilometres northwest of Taupo. Some of the locals might balk at that description of the place, because Kinloch is also a permanent settlement where rural folk earn a living in the multifarious ways that rural folk do. But for me, it was always a place for holidays.
Setting off for Kinloch every summer (and sometimes during the winter) signalled that work was over for a while and recreation time had arrived – and the journey sometimes came with a tinge of adventure. For several years of the decade that I was on good terms with my friends, I used to fly in to Taupo from Wellington. It was the days of Fokker Friendship aircraft (some of you will now be assigning dates to this account) when the twin-engined turboprop would labour up over the hills out of Wellington, cruise up the Kapiti Coast and set down for a restful cup of tea at Wanganui.
The passengers would troop off the plane, walk across the apron to the terminal and scoff down a quick sandwich or drink. Thirty minutes later the journey would resume, the plane threading its way between the great volcanoes at the centre of the island before emerging over the blue vastness of the lake. In cloudy weather the trip through the mountains felt perilous.
Kinloch has always, or at least since 1962 when its streets were laid out, had a certain air of poshness about it, having been formed from a sheep station belonging to the Holyoake family – of Prime Minister and later, Governor-General, Keith Holyoake, fame. Although he worked hard at being populist, it was difficult to find a fruitier, plummier, faux-English-sounding type of landowner than “Kiwi Keith” (1904-1983). That was what New Zealand was like not so very long ago.
The physical appearance of Kinloch also had a certain poshness. Its streets were lined with the neatly-kept grass verges, silver beeches and dwarf conifers that indicate in New Zealand signify respectable suburbia. It was also, and it may be still, a favoured retreat for Hawke’s Bay farmers, who at that time were usually rich. Another semi-resident former Governor-General added to the poshness factor – his holiday house was just along the road from my friends. The ex-G-G and his wife visited us one afternoon – uncomfortably – for gin and tonics. My friends were wealthy European businesspeople and were generally considered too sophisticated and “foreign” by the locals.
Set against this staid social scenario was the amazing beauty of the place, with its freezing, high-plateau winters and hot, continental-type summers. Fifty yards from the house, so close that you could hear the waves breaking on the beach at night, was the lake, sometimes as calm as a mill pond and at others like a stormy sea. Across the lake in the south the mountains brooded, a permanent reminder of the huge forces of vulcanism that continue to shape the region.
My friends introduced me to trout fishing – or more precisely, I usually watched while they dangled lines from their motorsailer as we puttered around spots that were supposedly good. (There is, I learned, much guardedness and secrecy in the world of trout fishing.) There was also a certain ritual: a first stop at the Kinloch Store to buy a fishing licence (you cannot legally catch trout in New Zealand without one), then on to the Kinloch marina to untie the boat, and then out into Whangamata Bay.
Sometimes we went ashore for a picnic in one of the deserted western bays but more often, once we had our limit of brown or rainbow trout (if we even reached it), we would lower the sails or cut the engine, break out the wine or beer and enjoy the simple peace of drifting on the body of the water. We seldom dropped anchor because much of the lake, for all intents and purposes, is bottomless. Trolling and dreaming and drinking seems much the best way to me to go trout fishing. I have another friend these days who is a fly fisherman and naturally regards it as a much more manly and athletic way to catch dinner. The appeal of standing up to my crotch in a freezing stream while wearing rubber waders is lost on me, so I leave all of it, including the fiddling and casting about with rods and lines and flies, to him. I do the cooking. I don’t think I am being disloyal in saying that, despite being a delicacy, and a big earner for our country by drawing in affluent trout-fishing fanatics from around the world, trout can be pretty underwhelming when it is simply steamed or poached or baked. It is also quite bony. I therefore like to amp up the flavour and the following recipes are two tasty delicious ways to enjoy this seasonal treat. www.alimentary.co.nz
Sophie Zalokar’s Potted Trout
This recipe was given to me by the very talented and beautiful Australian chef, Sophie Zalokar. A protégée of Maggie Beer, with whom she trained in the Barossa, Sophie is now a doyenne (I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that) of the burgeoning Pemberton and Manjimup food region of southwest Western Australia where she and her husband Chris own and operate the Foragers culinary tourism and luxury accommodation experience in Pemberton. Sophie served this dish with crostini and excellent local Angelicus sparkling wine as an appetiser before dinner. Yes, there are trout streams in WA.
200g leek, roughly chopped
1 cup chervil (keep the stalks for poaching)
¼ cup tarragon (keep the stalks for poaching)
¼ cup dill (keep the stalks for poaching)
1 cup Parsley (keep the stalks for poaching)
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 good-sized rainbow trout
250ml white wine
200g soft unsalted butter
100g full-fat cream cheese
½ tsp mace
2 limes, zest and juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place half the leeks along with all of the herb stalks and peppercorns into a shallow roasting tray. Place the trout on top of the herbs and add the white wine. Cover and bake for 20 minutes depending on how thick the fish fillets are and then remove and allow to cool.
Once cool, strain the liquid through a fine sieve and then flake the fish, making sure the bones and skin are removed.
Heat 30 gm of the butter in a sauce pan and add the remaining leek and cook until soft. Add the poaching liquid and reduce to evaporate. Then add the mace and the anchovies. Stir through and leave to cool.
Place the leek in a food processor and add the remaining butter along with all the herbs and Dijon mustard and cream cheese. Blend this until completely pureed. Then add the lime juice and zest.
Fold the herb butter into the trout, breaking up the flesh a little. Season with salt and pepper then place the trout into a terrine container, smoothing the top. Refrigerate until needed. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
Blinis with smoked trout
My favourite way to eat blinis is, I fondly remember, as served by a long-defunct restaurant called Flamingo’s on Auckland’s Jervois Road. The blinis were brought to the table piping hot, with dollops of sour cream and caviar, and a shot of ice-cold vodka on the side. This much more recent recipe from the Millennium Hotel and Resort Manuels in Taupo features a smoked trout mousse and is also very good.
Ingredients for blinis
! cup (150g) plain flour
1 Tbsp caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup (180ml) milk
50g unsalted butter, melted
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Gradually whisk in combined milk and egg, then half of the melted butter. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the pan with a little of the remaining butter. Drop 2 tsp (10ml) of blini mixture into the pan. Cook for 30 seconds or until browned lightly underneath and bubbles appear on the surface. Turn, cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the blini is cooked. Repeat with the remaining butter and blini mixture.
Ingredients for smoked trout mousse
500g smoked trout
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
In a food processor, or using a hand mixer, pulse the smoked trout and cream cheeses, scraping the bowl often. Add the cream and lemon juice and pulse until smooth.
Scrape the mousse into a bowl and stir in the chives, dill and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
To assemble, pipe the mousse on to the blinis and garnish with fresh dill.
Article: Alex Colby
Photos: roadrangers.co.nz; centorini.simnz.com; wikimedia commons; foragers.com.au; Millennium Hotels & Resorts.
recipes courtesy of John Corbett, alimentary.co.nz