Kris : I love using native Australian ingredients in my cooking. This is one of my favourite dishes to make:
Ocean Trout baked in Paperbark.
Weeping Paperbark trees (of the genus Melaleuca) are fairly common ornamental trees found in a lot of Australian gardens. Aboriginal people have used them for thousand’s of years to bake food in; it’s nature’s baking paper. It gives an interesting, smoky flavour to food, particularly to seafood and vegetables.
It is best to soak the bark in water for a few hours before using it; this stops it from burning and help’s to partially steam the food. On the left, you see the soft inner side of the bark, this is the side you want to use to wrap your food (unlike the gnarly, outside bark on the right).
I bought an ocean trout to wrap in my paperbark. When baking, use an oilier fish (like trout or mackerel) as white fleshed fish tend to dry out. I seasoned each side of the fish with sea salt and drizzled it with olive oil. I then stuffed it with fresh lemon myrtle leaves, Tasmanian pepper berries and a couple of cloves of garlic.
If you don’t have lemon myrtle leaves or Tasmanian pepper berries, you can use lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.Also, if you can’t find paperbark you can wrap the fish in baking paper.
Tightly wrap the fish, rolling it in the bark like a burrito so the juices can’t leak out while baking. Use twine to secure both ends and the middle.
Place it into an oven pre-heated to 180 C and bake for 1 hour.
While waiting for the fish to bake, I made a salad of finely sliced iceberg lettuce, mint, orange segments and macadamia nuts. Simply dress the salad with a good quality olive oil and some lime juice.
Caroline: We ate the fish just by pulling the flesh off the bone with a fork. It was juicy and savory and tender. The macadamia nuts gave the combo great crunch and the citrus in the salad cut through the oiliness of the fish.
Kris: I dropped out to the Moo Brew brewery yesterday and was lucky to pick up a 4-pack of Pilsner fresh off the bottling line. It’s a clean, crisp german style Pilsner. I thought the beer would be a perfect match for the dish. It was. It cut through the richness of the fish and worked really well with the citrus in the salad.