HOLY SMOKE?Unlike hot smoking, cold smoking does not cook the flesh, and brings a subtle, layered depth of flavour to trout fillets.
Know your smoke
I recently came across some cold-smoked Irish rainbow trout fillets from Goatsbridge in Co Kilkenny in my local supermarket. ‘This looks interesting’, I thought! I was due to cook a meal that night for the Brunette to earn some Brownie points. I decided I’d do our semi-regular comfort-food dinner, Penne Salmone, but with smoked trout instead of smoked salmon.
So,what’s the difference between hot and cold smoking? Simply, one is smoked with hot smoke that actually cooks the flesh, extending shelf life; the other uses a colder smoke that does not cook the flesh, and a separate salting or brining process making the product bacteria free. Many think that cold smoking gives a saltier taste, but this is often down to the individual producer. We have a fabulous local smoker of fish, Jerry Hasset, in Achill island and we regually enjoy his smoked fish. I use it in my products too.
But this cold-smoked version of Irish Trout was new to me, so I called Mag Kirwin, who runs Goatsbridge farm with her husband, Ger, and she told me that they have been farming trout in the Nore valley outside Thomastown since 1961. They love what they do, farming the trout in pure waters along sustainable lines. People are welcome to visit their centre there
The Goatsbridge trout, which I picked up in SuperValu, has a really soft, gentle smoked flavour that I found less salty than the hot smoked versions. It was a more subtle flavour that grew and grew, less up-front in the mouth, but offering layers of flavour as the taste receded. While it works perfectly with pasta, it’s also great on buttered soda bread – nice and simple.
Smoked Irish trout pasta
What you need
- 300g smoked Irish trout
- 250g penne pasta
- 200ml cream
- 1 medium red onion
- Capers (optional)
What you do
Boil your pasta in heavily salted water. While it’s cooking, cut and dice your red onion very finely. Melt some butter in oil in a pan, then add the onion and sauté for five minutes over a low heat, stirring so it does not brown or stick. Cut your smoked trout into bite-sized pieces and stir into the onions. Turn up heat and as the sizzle sound rises, add in your cream. Turn up the heat full and get the cream boiling. This reduces the cream and adds an extra richness to the dish.If you are adding capers throw them into cream mix now.
By this around this time, the pasta should be cooked, but with still a little bite. Lift the cooked pasta into your pan and toss or stir for two mins, bringing all the flavour together. Serve out with garnish or chopped parsley – or even some red chilli flakes if the mood take you!
Red Cabot sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.
Local producer shout-out
I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to the fantastic Sungold tomatoes grown at Brambling Farm, Rathnacreeva, Ballyglass, Claremorris. An F1 variant of Sungolds, these tomatoes are an orangey colour. They mightn’t look up to much, but boy oh boy, put one in your mouth and you bite into sweet, natural goodness. The producers are just as nice! Give them a call on 086 8225979 and they’ll tell you the nearest stockist to you.