How to make the most of trout season

Seasonal Suppers: Lured by the mayfly, this most traditional of Irish meals is perfect right now

Trout - simple and delicious

Trout - simple and delicious

 

Throughout most of early Irish food history, fishing was simply a matter of survival, simply a way to get additional foodstuff into our diet. For thousands of years, settlers fished in estuaries, the mouth of the river where the fresh water met the sea. At the mouth of the Liffey, for example, they built wattled weirs to force fish into collection points where they could be netted or speared. Then they toasted them over open fires or simply ate them raw. 

Sometime, during this long food history, the early settlers of Ireland noticed fish feeding on the surface of lakes. These hunters devised ways to catch the fish by mimicking the flies they were eating. Thus, a primitive version of fly fishing was born. The first written account of fly fishing doesn’t mention the exact insects these hunters were imitating, but it does suggest they were fishing for trout on the large lakes of Ireland. Those trout were probably eating mayflies, a fly that lives during May and June. Trout rise to the top of the lake in order to feed on these beautiful little creatures. Trout is one of the earliest fish eaten in Ireland and it has a long edible history. 

The mayfly has gifted us some river trout from the Corrib. We poach little fillets of them gently in warm oil (50 degrees) for a minute or two. As I’ve said before, fish needs very little cooking so please go easy on it. The days of putting fillets of fish in the oven for 20 minutes have hopefully passed. 

Another nice way of cooking the trout whole is to wrap it in seaweed. I use sugar kelp. Wrap it completely, leaving the head and tail exposed. Bake for 7-10 minutes until the flesh is firm. Unwrap the trout and season lightly with sea salt. A nice shaved fennel salad would suit this fish well. Shave a fennel bulb on the mandolin and dress with equal parts of good oil and vinegar. Season with sea salt and garnish with loads of fresh green fennel fronds. 

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