Rainbow trout rillettes, rye, cucumber and watercress sandwiches

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

"The combination here is ever so posh," says Philippa Sibley. "Cucumber and watercress sandwiches with smoked rainbow trout - perfect after a spot of tennis, lazing on the porch with a nice G & 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."

  • 1 loaf rye bread
  • 2 small Lebanese cucumbers
  • 100 gm butter, softened
  • 1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
  •  
  • Rainbow trout rillettes
  • 2 whole rainbow trout (300gm each; see note)
  • 100 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 gm plain yoghurt, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40 ml lemon juice
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp grated horseradish
  • 1 smoked rainbow trout (300gm), skinned and flaked
01   For rillettes, using a razor-sharp knife, make an incision in each trout from the back of the head to past the front fin. 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 160C. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray. Arrange the 4 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 and set aside. 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, then add the rest of the lemon juice. Fold in the flaked fish, chives and horseradish. Test for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
02   Slice the rye bread thinly. Slice the cucumbers thinly and season lightly with salt to wilt slightly. Butter the bread generously and layer on the cucumber and watercress, sandwich with top slices, then cut the sandwiches into random lengths and serve alongside the rillettes. Encourage your guests to spread the rillettes onto the sandwiches and eat with their fingers.

Note You can ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. This recipe is from New Classics ($49.95, hbk) by Philippa Sibley, published by Hardie Grant Books. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.

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