Smoked Trout Cake with Celery Juice
New American chefs love smoked trout, a food more widely indigenous than smoked salmon from the Pacific Southwest. These terrific fried fish cakes are balanced by a fresh celery juice and a fennel puree.
- Potatoes - 6 (12 ounces)
- Chicken Stock - 2 cups
- Pinch of saffron
- Salt to taste
- Celery Juice Sauce
- Celery - 1/2 bunch
- Colman’s or other dry mustard - 2 tablespoons
- Lemon Juice - 1/2 tablespoon, fresh
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Fennel Puree
- Fennel bulb - 1 large, topped and coarsely chopped
- Chicken Stock - 3/4 to 1 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Smoked Trout Cakes
- Smoked Trout - 3, small, whole (about 1-1/2 pounds total)
- Eggs - 4
- Chives - 1 tablespoon, snipped, fresh
- Celery - 1-1/3 cups, diced (about 4 stalks)
- Red Bell Pepper - 1/4 cup, diced
- Salt to taste
- Bread Crumbs - 2 cups, fine, dried
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Belgian Endive Leaves - 18
- Red Oak Lettuce Leaves - 18
- Curly Endive Leaves - 18
To prepare the potatoes: Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes. With a melon baller, remove the center from each cube. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a low boil. Stir the saffron into the stock, add the salt, then add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove them from the stock with a slotted spoon, drain them upside down on paper towels, and set aside.
To make the celery juice sauce: using an electric juice extractor, process the celery to obtain 1/2 cup of juice. In a blender, combine the juice, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. With the motor running slowly, add the olive oil to obtain a thick creamy sauce. Set aside.
To make the fennel puree: Place the fennel in a small deep pan or skillet over medium-high heat and enough stock to cover. Cook until the fennel is tender, about 8 minutes. In a blender, puree the fennel with just enough stock to make a puree that is smooth but thick enough to mound in a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
To prepare the trout cakes: In a large bowl, beat 3 of the eggs. Remove the skin and bones from the fish and break up the meat with your fingers. Place the fish in the bowl with the beaten eggs and add the celery, red pepper, chives, and salt. Mix with a fork and add just enough of the bread crumbs to bind the mixture together.
Form the mixture into 6 balls, then pat and shape them into 1-inch-thick patties. Place the remaining egg in a separate shallow bowl and beat the egg. Place the remaining bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Dredge the cakes in the egg, then in the bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and fry the trout cakes, turning once, until golden brown, a total of about 4 minutes.
To serve: In the center of each serving plate, spoon a mound of the fennel puree. Lay 1 trout cake against this mound. Place 1 potato cube at the edge of the cake and fit one of each of the decorative greens into the potato to form a bouquet. Spoon some of the celery juice sauce on each side of the plate.