recipe

Credit: EARL CARTER

Stuffed rainbow trout with dill and broad bean pilaf

The science of taste is complex. We take for granted the extraordinary job our tongue does. Its ability to identify sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami tastes and transmit these to the gustatory cortex for evaluation is not something many of us think about in the day-to-day process of shoving food in our mouths and chewing and swallowing it. How often do we really take the time to savour and consciously analyse the food we eat? Sure, we can comment on deliciousness or make faces as we consume something not to our liking, but the process of tasting is rarely given enough attention.

Our ability to taste things keeps us relatively safe. If food that is off, or poisonous, gets past our sense of smell and touch, it likely will be detected at the taste stage and spat out.

It is the concept of sour that I find most difficult to understand. Why do we like sour tastes? Perhaps it is because, in sensible quantities, sour things are very good for us.

The sour taste is digestive; it fuels appetite, increases saliva, enhances the secretions of digestive enzymes and stimulates the metabolism. Sour foods can help move stagnation in the liver, encourage the flow of bile, and generally encourage the liver to work effectively. It is said that the sour taste awakens the mind and helps to coalesce scattered energy. It is anti-flatulent, antispasmodic, energising, refreshing, satisfying and nourishing to the heart. Sour fruits are usually high in vitamin C and are often considered to be antioxidant and rejuvenating.

So to stimulate our spring palates, here is a recipe full of sour ingredients. The barberries and tamarind combine to create a sour stuffing that is the perfect foil to the rainbow trout’s inherent natural sweetness. The yoghurt on the side is one of nature’s miracle foods. Lime wedges complete the sour components. Serve with a side of rice brimming with two of the stars of spring – double-podded broad beans and new-season dill – and as you eat it, pause for a moment and listen to the extraordinary conversation your tongue has with your brain. The communication will happen faster than any computer, as you register the whole family of sour nuances present.

Stuffed rainbow trout with dill and broad bean pilaf

Serves 4

Stuffed trout

– ½ cup barberries

– 90ml olive oil, plus more for greasing

– 1 large onion, thinly sliced

– 2 tbsp tamarind paste

– 4 garlic cloves, crushed

– ⅓ cup slivered almonds, roasted to golden

– ⅓ cup chopped coriander

– ⅓ cup chopped parsley

– ⅓ cup chopped tarragon

– 4 rainbow trout, cleaned and butterflied

– salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Grease two baking sheets and set aside. Soak the barberries in warm water for 30 minutes and drain.

In a large skillet heat three tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden (about 10 minutes). Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more, until dark brown and caramelised. Add the barberries, tamarind paste, garlic and almonds, and cook until fragrant (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Stuff each fish with about half a cup of stuffing and brush with the remaining olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Change the oven setting to 230ºC and cook for an additional three to four minutes, until the fish’s skin is golden.

Pilaf

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 1 onion, finely diced

– 2 cups golden basmati rice

– 1 tsp salt

– 750ml water or stock

– 500g broad beans, podded

– ½ bunch dill, chopped

– 250g yoghurt

– lime wedges and several sprigs of coriander, for serving


Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Pour the olive oil into a casserole dish or ovenproof saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the onion, then cook and stir until it is lightly browned (seven to eight minutes). Add the rice and salt, stirring to mix over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the water or stock, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminium foil or a tight-fitting lid. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff with a fork to separate the grains of rice.

While the rice is cooking, boil a small saucepan of water and add the podded broad beans. Strain after about a minute and refresh under cold running water. Pop the beans out of their skins and set aside. When ready to serve, mix the dill and the double-podded beans through the pilaf.

Serve the trout and pilaf with the yoghurt, lime and coriander.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 5, 2019 as "Sour broker". Subscribe here.

Annie Smithers
is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.