You could serve this as a cold buffet dish, a summery starter or as a main course if you increase its size. There has been a fair amount of wild sea trout around this year which is great news for those of us who are anglers and cooks. I tend to use the commercial brands of cider for this dish, as some of the real farmhouse ciders tend to go a little cloudy when the gelatine is added.
A 350-400g piece of sea trout, on the bone
300-400ml fish stock
6 black peppercorns
A few sprigs of wild or cultivated fennel ferns, stalks removed and reserved
3 leaves of leaf gelatine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the summer vegetable salad
40g cooked peas
60g podded weight of cooked broad beans
8-10 green beans, cooked and cut into 3cm lengths
A handful of small salad leaves and herbs (land cress, silver sorrel, pea shoots, chervil, flat parsley, chive tops, etc) cut into 3cm lengths
1tbsp olive oil
2tsp cider vinegar
Homemade or good-quality mayonnaise to serve
Put the sea trout in a saucepan and cover with the fish stock (add a little more if you need to). Add the peppercorns, stalks from the fennel and a couple of good pinches of sea salt. Bring to the boil, skim and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes, then leave to cool for about 45 minutes in the liquid. Once cool, remove the sea trout and carefully remove the flesh from the bone; then remove the skin and any small pin bones down the centre of the fillet. Strain about 200ml of the clearer liquid from the surface of the stock
through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and discard the rest of the stock. Heat about 60ml of the strained liquid in a small pan. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes, then squeeze out the water and stir into the heated cooking liquor until dissolved. Add the heated liquid to the rest of the strained cooking liquid and stir in the cider.
Put cm of the liquid in the bottoms of 4 ramekins or tea cups and let it set. Take 4 good-sized chunks of the sea trout and place in the set jelly with a couple of sprigs of fennel and a futher tablespoon of the jelly liquid, then place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes. Once set, add the rest of the pieces of sea trout, fennel and stock. Place in the fridge until set again.
When you are ready to serve them, dip the jellies into hot water for just a couple of seconds, making sure that they don't melt. Carefully push the jellies around the edges a little with your fingers and turn out on to serving plates.
Mix the cider vinegar and olive oil together and toss with the leaves and vegetables, then arrange in a pile with the jellies, or around them. Serve with the mayonnaise on the side.