Rainbow trout with braised fennel + lemony walnut crumble

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Sometimes simple is best.

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There are only 5 ingredients in this delicious meal, not including seasoning, oil and butter. Simple, easy but far from boring. Grilled fresh fish with a subtle side of lemony braised fennel. For texture and flavour I’ve topped these caramelised melting fennel wedges with a nut crumble made only from toasted walnuts and lemon zest. The two contrasting ingredients really do make for a delicious (and bread-free!) topping.

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I’ve previously shared a recipe for braised fennel in orange juice and if you still haven’t tried this technique it’s about time you give it a go! I’m a big fan of roasted fennel but there’s a buttery quality than braised fennel achieves and you just don’t get this with roasted fennel. Yum.

Note the fennel recipe will serve 2 with leftovers. It would probably be enough for 4 people if you served potatoes/something else on the side.

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You will need:

2 fresh rainbow trout, gutted with heads, scales and fins removed
2 large bulbs of fennel
knob of butter
2 lemons, plus an extra few wedges of lemon to serve
250ml chicken stock
70g walnuts
extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

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Method:

1 – Prepare the fennel; slice into 1cm thick slices through the base, keeping the root intact to help the slices hold their shape. Reserve the fronds.
2 – Heat the butter in a frying pan with a little oil. Add the fennel and cook over a medium-high heat until the edges of the fennel start to caramelise. Season well then add the juice of 2 lemons (don’t throw them away yet though!) and stock. Turn down to an energetic simmer and cook for around 40 minutes.
3 – While the fennel cooks you should prepare the fish and the walnuts. Bring the fish to room temperature, season well and massage with olive oil. Preheat an overhead grill to 190 degrees.
4 – Make the walnut crumble; toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan then pulse into the texture of breadcrumbs using a food processor. Heat a little oil in the frying pan and return the walnut crumbs to the pan along with the zest of 1 of your lemons you’ve juiced for the fennel. Cook for a minute or so until golden and fragrant. Season and set aside.
5 – Cook the fish for around 15 minutes under the hot grill – depending on the strength of your grill and the size of your fish it should take about 7 minutes on each side. Meanwhile return to the fennel, which should be quite sticky and reduced. Turn up the heat a little for the final few minutes, just to make sure the fennel is nicely sticky and caramelised – stir fairly often to prevent burning.
6 – To serve, top the fennel with the walnut crumble mix and reserved fennel fronds. Serve with the just-cooked fish and wedges of lemon – a side of peas is optional but recommended.

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