Whole Grilled Trout Stuffed with Lemon, Fennel & Herbs

As we are gearing up for another festive season, many of us are starting to put together ideas for our Christmas lunches and dinners. To me, it is probably the most festive meal of the year, where family and friends are treated to the best of our ability.

Christmas food doesn’t have to be formal, though. I’ve noticed that more people are moving away from the heavier red meat roasts, opting for lighter, summery, al fresco choices. With Christmas falling in the middle of summer time in South Africa, I’ve always loved food that you could eat cold, like my cold Christmas platter, or food that you can braai as part of a relaxing afternoon with family and friends. While most of us are on holiday at the coast during this time, it just makes sense to consider fish as a main course.

Rainbow trout is a sustainably farmed local freshwater fish, and a perfect choice for a Christmas lunch or dinner. It’s delicate pink flakes are so beautiful to look at, and wonderfully tasty to eat. If you can get hold of a whole trout from your local fishmonger, make sure that is fresh, gilled and gutted. This way you can just rinse it at home, stuff it, and put it on the braai or in the oven. So very easy.

I love to serve this trout with a crisp green fennel & celery & apple salad, as well as cracked roasted potatoes and a fantastic versatile yogurt mustard sauce. The recipes for the salad and potatoes will follow shortly, but I’ll include the recipe for the yogurt sauce here. Remember that you can use the sauce on the fish, but also on the salad and the potatoes. The fish and potatoes are best served warm, but can certainly also successfully be served at room temperature.

 

Ingredients

The Trout

  • 1 x Whole trout, gilled and gutted (about 1.6 to 2 kg)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x Medium lemons, sliced
  • 1 x Large fennel bulb, sliced
  • A handful of fennel fronds (reserved from the bulb)
  • A handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon

The yogurt mustard sauce

  • 250ml Double cream Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp good quality mayonnaise
  • Juice of a medium size lemon
  • 2 tsp Wholegrain mustard
  • 30 to 45ml Chopped fresh dill (or fennel fronds)
  • Cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt 

Method

  1. If you are going to use an oven to cook your fish, pre-heat it to 200C. If you are going to braai (barbecue) it, get your fire ready to medium hot coals.
  2. Rinse the trout well under cold water, then pat dry with a tea towel.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make angled incisions in the sides of the fish, about three on a side. Season the inside of the incisions well with salt and pepper. Season the inside of the gutted cavity as well.
  4. Use lemon sliced, fennel slices, fennel fronds and parsley to stuff into the incisions and cavity, then drizzle the stuffed parts with lemon juice. Season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper, then place it on a piece of oiled foil on a roasting tray and roast in the oven at 200C for 25 to 30 minutes. If you’re going to braai it, place the fish inside a large hinged grid (without any foil), over medium hot coals on both sides for about 30 minutes in total. Oil the inside of your grid to ensure that the fish doesn’t stick to the grid.
  5. Transfer the fish to a large serving platter and serve with a fresh fennel salad, roast potatoes and the yogurt mustard sauce.