Salmon’s lesser known cousin

THESE days, salmon is everywhere. Like cod, its popularity has made it scarcer and scarcer in the wild, despite the fact that the majority of salmon consumed is farmed. If you’re suffering from salmon overload, the lesser known sea trout can make for an excellent alternative.

Sea trout is a river fish that goes to sea for a year and grows to up to five kilos. It may look like long, thin salmon, but when you cut into it, the flesh is redder and leaner. Farmed sea trout is relatively easy to get hold of, but to my mind, it can’t hold a candle to the flavour of the wild fish, which is in season between May and September.

In terms of cooking, it should be treated like salmon or any other oily fish. It’s amazing cured, steamed, roasted, baked or poached. The distinctive yet subtle flavour goes brilliantly with light fragrant herbs such as lemon verbena or lemon balm. The more robust flavours of thyme or garlic work equally well. I would cook it lightly (to retain the pinkness of the flesh) with oysters poached in butter and marsh samphire, a succulent foraged sea vegetable that compliments the fish beautifully. Alternatively, steam the fish with lemon and cracked black pepper and serve with a green salad for a light, healthy lunch.

Cured with salt and sugar or fragrant herbs, it beats salmon hands down. Use earl grey tea to help the cure really take hold. Once cured, it is delicious served with soda bread and cucumber or watercress.

Though it is much less common on our tables, sea trout is just as versatile and tasty as salmon. Try the wild version this summer and you’re sure to be a convert.