Baked Ocean Trout

 When I was little my mum worked on weekends and left my sister and I in the company of our fishing-mad dad.  He would pack up his gear and us into the car on a Sunday morning and set out to fish off the rocks near the beaches of Newcastle.  While my sister and I messed around on the rocks, splashing through tide pools and generally getting each other wet, Dad would cast his line into the water and pull out some of the most boring fish I’ve ever seen – flathead, leather jacket… I simply couldn’t reconcile myself to these fish as gourmet delights.  He did land the odd bream in his endless quest for a snapper, and I remember getting in big trouble one time when I decided to constantly douse one of his catches with water.  Little did I know I was prolonging the poor thing’s agony instead of allowing it to die in peace!
Dad’s penchant for fresh fish never transferred to me.  When I grew up I had to train myself to enjoy dining on fish.  One flatmate showed me how to grill a piece of perch while a friend taught me how to mix tinned tuna with red onion and S&W whole egg mayonnaise to make what to me was a surprisingly tasty toasted sandwich.  I eventually braved the counter at the fish shop, learning that tuna steak was a sensation next to heaven, while salmon, carefully baked, could be equally as divine.
But my favourite, of all sea fare, is ocean trout.  I frequently serve this at dinner parties- it is so easy to make, and impresses beyond expectations.

2 three-inch wide ocean trout steaks, cut in half
1cm chunk of fresh ginger
6 shallots
2 tblsp olive oil
3 tblsp white wine
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp light soy sauce
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. De-bone ocean trout steaks.  You do this with a pair of tweezers (ones especially designated for kitchen duty, thanks!).  Use your finger tip to feel down the side of the trout steak – you’ll find hard spots which, when inspected closely, are the ends of the fish bones.  Take hold of them with the tweezers and pull them out.  Keep feeling for bones and pulling them on both sides of the steak until none remain.  I find this makes for concern-free eating!
3. Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish and place the trout steaks skin side down.  I don’t like skin on my fish, but I’ve given up trying to cut it off as once the fish comes out of the oven it simply lifts off!
4. In a 1 cup Fire King jug combine grated ginger, finely chopped shallots (including the green bits!), olive oil, white wine, salt and pepper.  Mix to combine, then pour over the trout steaks, arranging the shallots and ginger on top of each.
5. Cover baking dish with cling film and allow to marinate in fridge for 15 minutes – and no longer!  Fish easily takes on strong flavours like ginger and shallots.  We want a subtle flavour that doesn’t overwhelm the actual trout!
6.  Bake trout in oven for 12 minutes.  Make sure you use a timer, as over cooking will produce a very dry result.
7.  Serve trout on a bed of steamed baby spinach leaves with mashed potato on the side (I’ll post a recipe for this later). 
8. To prepare sauce, heat a fry pan on the stovetop.  Add olive oil then soy sauce, making sure you stand well back as the two will spit when they connect!  Stir quickly to combine and remove from heat immediately.  Left any longer, this sauce will reduce right down to a sticky tar.  Allow sizzling to subside then carefully spoon a little of the sauce over each trout steak.  Serve immediately!


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