Crisp-Skinned Tasmanian Sea Trout with Charred Tomato Risotto

The exquisite Tasmanian sea trout is a farmed steelhead trout raised in the enviably clean, brackish waters off the coast of Tasmania. Both its flesh and its skin are vibrantly coloured, the flavour hits all the bright notes of a fine Atlantic salmon, and its fat content makes it both easy to cook with and a pleasure to eat. The acidity of the charred tomatoes in the risotto makes a perfect counterpoint to the fish’s rich flesh. Any fish of similar qualities will work as a stand-in. We hope you enjoy creating this delicious meal, perfectly paired with a wine selected by winemaker, Jamie Marfell. Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 batch risotto – recipe below
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, halved, cored and seeded
  • 4 tbsp (60 mL) olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 Tasmanian sea trout fillets, 6 oz (175 g) each, skin on White pepper
Risotto:
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) minced onion
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic
  • 1¼ cups (300 mL) Carnaroli rice
  • ½ cup (125 mL) white wine
  • 1 quart (1 L) white chicken stock, at a simmer
  • ½ cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) 35% cream
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
  • Ground white pepper
RECIPE METHOD:
  1. Preheat grill on high. Toss the tomato halves in 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil, season with salt and black pepper, and grill them until well charred on both sides. Chop the tomatoes. Meanwhile, set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. About halfway through cooking the risotto, place a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pat the fish fillets dry and sprinkle the skin side with a little salt and white pepper. Scatter additional salt in the hot, dry skillet, and place the flllets in it skin side down. Sear for 2 or 3 minutes, sprinkle with salt and white pepper, and without turning the fish, transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until medium-rare – 7 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness.
  3. Begin plating with a portion of risotto. Perch a fillet on top of each serving crispy-skin side up. Garnish with sprigs of chervil, pea shoots, or the like and serve.
Risotto
  1. Heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions, salt lightly, and sweat, stirring frequently so the onions do not brown. When after 5 or 6 minutes the onions begin to wilt, add the garlic and cook a minute longer. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the grams of rice begin to acquire translucence (if uncertain, lift a few grains from the pot and examine them against the dark backdrop of your wooden spoon). When that is achieved, deglaze with the wine.
  2. When the wine has been reduced to virtual syrup, add ½ cup (125 mL) of the hot stock. Stir again. When the liquid once again thickens, add ¼ cup (50 mL) stock and stir again. Season lightly. Stir regularly, and build the seasoning gradually as you go. Continue until the rice is nearly cooked and the stock nearly finished.
  3. Stir the cheese into the risotto, and heat through. Remove pot from heat. Stir in the cream, and butter. Taste and correct seasonings with salt and white pepper.

Substitutions: Top-quality Atlantic salmon is a perfectly suitable stand-in for the sea trout. So is wild Arctic char. And when spring peas are in season they make for an excellent alternative to the tomatoes in the risotto.

Tip

It is not true that risotto must be cooked right through from start to finish; cooking it until 5 minutes shy of completion, chilling it quickly, and resuming the preparation later on has no discernible effect on the taste or texture of the rice. To cool it quickly, spread the par-cooked rice on a baking sheet and refrigerate immediately. This is what restaurants do-and especially the ones that announce grandly on their menu “N.B.: risotto takes 20 minutes to prepare.”