When a food producer presents you with a fine sample of his (or her) goods, I believe that you should treat the product with absolute respect. For example, this beautiful Rainbow trout, which came snapping fresh from the Robertson Trout Farm in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Dennis, the producer, has turned his passion for trout into his hobby. The former sailor, youth worker and electrician says 'I like trout. It's pure food with no additives, and that's why I started growing them for myself and my family. Now that I've retired from full time work, trout farming is my hobby.'
The Robertson Trout Farm supplies fresh fish to Rockabella's Roadside Diner, The Robertson Inn, and locals who appreciate the fresh fish. Ellie Di Bella, owner of Rockabella's Roadside Diner (specialising in classic Tex Mex food), marinates the trout in a honey bourbon liqueur and smokes it in-house. The smoked trout is offered in a range of dishes, including a galette with Robertson potatoes. Another of Ellie's trout specialties is Cajun spice-crumbed trout served with Tex Mex rice and salsa fresca.
Dennis currently has around 1,000 trout on the farm and restocks with 1,500 fingerlings each year. 'I grow them out over about 9-10 months, and then sell them,' he explained.
Expecting to hear a selection of complex recipes, I asked Dennis to tell me about his favourite way of cooking trout. 'Because the trout is so fresh, the best way to cook it is three and a half minutes in the microwave. No pepper, no salt, no lemon, nothing. Then, peel the skin off, get a fork and eat it!' he said. Too easy.
So, how did I cook the trout? Simply and with respect - although I did veer slightly from the method suggested by Dennis. I filled the belly of the fish with slices of our fresh, home-grown Meyer lemon and chopped parsley, and seasoned it with just a little sea salt and pepper. Then, I covered it with cling film and cooked it for three and a half minutes in the microwave, per the original instructions from Dennis.
Peter and I enjoyed the fish with a side of crisp garden salad... and I have to tell you, it was, quite simply, THE BEST trout I have ever eaten. Thank you, Dennis.
Incidentally, Dennis explained that the cooked trout can be refrigerated and eaten cold the following day. 'We enjoy it with lemons and onions, and I also love trout curry,' he said.
While the Robertson Trout Farm is part of the Robertson Food and Wine Cluster, it is not physically open to the public. However, you can order fresh trout to take home by giving Dennis a courtesy call (on 02 4885 1193) a day or two before the fish is required.
If you happen to be passing through Robertson in the NSW Southern Highlands, make sure you pop in to Rockabella's Diner and The Robertson Inn, both on Hoddle Street. You will find both venues on Facebook.
It's your turn now, dear readers. Do you enjoy Rainbow trout? What's your favourite way of cooking it?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.