Cauliflower is a vegetable that can be stored quite well, and therefore it is available throughout almost the whole year. Actually, the real season for cauliflower – at least in Europe – is about right now. During spring and summer fresh cauliflower can be sourced from local farmers in white, green, orange or purple colors. Usually, cauliflower is picked into florets and cooked or steamed tender, or it is sometimes prepared as a creamy soup. In this recipe I cooked the cauliflower slightly different than usual and served it with a crispy roasted trout fillet.
My main problem with cauliflower florets is, that they come in various sizes and therefore require different cooking times for an optimal result, which should be neither mushy nor raw. To overcome this problem I used larger florets than usual and cut them into slices using a mandoline. Then I blanched the cauliflower slices in boiling salted water, chilled them in ice water and reheated them right before serving the dish in some butter. This way I managed to cook each cauliflower slice to its own perfectness.
I also used the stems of the cauliflower. Its taste always reminds me of kohlrabi. Next to the stem dices I added drops of a home-made lemon and poppy seed paste. For the paste I blanched a lemon several times to remove it’s bitterness and pureed it with freshly ground white poppy seeds. In contrast to traditional black poppy seeds, I was surprised by the very sticky nature of the ground white poppy seeds. For example cleaning my grinder afterwards was not an easy task. The lemon and white poppy seed paste had a very nice nutty flavor, which paired perfectly with the cauliflower and added freshness to the dish due to its decent sour taste.
Trout with Cauliflower and White Poppy Seed and Lemon Puree
- 1 trout (about 400g)
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp white poppy seed
- 2-3 tbsp poppy seed oil
- 1 scallion green
- pinch of sugar
- freshly grated nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
- lemon olive oil
For the lemon-poppy-seed paste
Wash the lemon with hot water to rub off the wax layer. Sting the lemon with a knife and add to a large pot. Cover with about 2l water and cook covered for 1 hour. Drain the cooking liquid and replace with fresh water. Bring to a boil and repeat the water change 4 times. Drain and chill the lemon to room temperature. Cut the lemon into chunks and discard the seeds. Grind the white poppy seeds and blend with the cooked lemon (and its liquid) to a fine puree. While blending, add the poppy seed oil and season with salt and a pinch of sugar. Press through a fine sieve to remove any unwanted solids and reserve 1 tbsp for this dish. Freeze the remaining paste for another purpose.
For the cauliflower
Wash the cauliflower and discard the outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, trim the stem of the cauliflower from the head. Peel the stem and cut into 5mm cubes. Blanch in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then chill in ice water and drain.
Pick the cauliflower head into large florets and cut into 4-5mm thick slices using a mandoline. Reserve the whole slices for this dish and use the remaining trimmings for another purpose (e.g. puree or soup). Blanch the cauliflower slices in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then chill in ice water and drain.
For the trout
Wash the trout under cold running water and tap dry using kitchen paper. Trim off the fillets and remove the bones. Cut the fillets into long rectangles. Immediately before roasting the fish, tap the portions dry on kitchen paper. Heat 1 tbsp lemon olive oil in a hot pan and add the fillets with their skin side down. Carefully push down on the fillets with a flat kitchen tool to get an even and crispy skin. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish through from its skin side. The fish is ready when the meat on top turns pale.
Warm the lemon-poppy-seed paste over low heat.
Melt 1.5 tbsp butter in a small pan and gently warm the blanched cauliflower slices and cubes in it. Season with freshly grated nutmeg and salt. Drain the cauliflower shortly on kitchen paper.
Arrange 8-10 cauliflower slices on warm plates. Add 6-8 drops of lemon-poppy-seed paste around it and sprinkle with cauliflower cubes. Put a trout fillet with its skin side up on the cauliflower florets. Decorate with a few thin strands of scallion greens.