Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Poached Ocean Perch and an Australian Holiday

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a festive, relaxing holiday season with family and friends and are ready to jump into the new year. After being on vacation I am feeling refreshed and excited for 2012 and all that lies ahead ... especially eating!

We are home from our family holiday in Australia and wow, what an amazing vacation. Any time Bob, Sam, Isaac and I are buckled in and taking off on a new adventure together I am thrilled. Knowing we’d be visiting friends and seeing such a beautiful country made the experience even more special. Let’s just say we all fell in love with Australia!

We soaked up some much needed sun on Coogee Beach, took hikes around Canberra (loved seeing kangaroos!), watched cockatoos outside the kitchen window, went canoeing in Kangaroo Valley, explored museums, gazed at the night sky (our first time in the Southern Hemisphere), toured Sydney and had plenty of time for walks, chats and cocktails with our friends.

I also wandered food shops and fish markets, bakeries and vegetable stands, delighting in the mangoes, passion fruit, yogurt, cheeses and local fish. Truly a gastronomic paradise! Needless to say, food shopping was fun for me and I appreciate the patience shown by those accompanying me as I “ooohhed” and “ahhhed” my way through each spot ... slowly. My souvenirs include caramelized balsamic vinegar, truffle olive oil, fairy floss, nougat, passion fruit curd and umami paste. Heaven!

Celebrating a Christmas Aussie-style with our friends was marvelous. We enjoyed a big brekkie (breakfast), swam in the waves and lounged on the sand (lots of bikinis and Santa hats on the beach!) and prepared a fantastic dinner I want to share with you.

The fish and seafood along the Australian coast is incredible and is traditionally eaten on Christmas. Cheryl and I discovered a recipe for poached ocean trout with horseradish cream and decided it would make a lovely Christmas meal. The fish is poached in the oven rather than on the stove top – a method I love and will continue to use. We gently poached the fish in a broth flavored with lemon, parsley stems, peppercorns, onion wedges and garlic and whisked together the creamy, tangy sauce to accompany it.

I loved the delicate flavor of the perch and the rich sauce paired with it. Our menu also included potato and cheese cake, buttery purple carrots and lots of champagne. For dessert – little mince pies with double cream (a new love of mine), strawberry coulis and pistachio fairy floss. Deep sighs of contentment! When shared with dear friends and this view, what could be better?

Cheers to 2012! Wishing you all a year of health, happiness and good food. I look forward to sharing some more Aussie food adventures with you, too.

Poached Ocean Trout with Horseradish Cream
From Highlife (December/January 2012)
Serves 8

2 1/2 pounds ocean perch, filleted and skin on
1 lemon, sliced
A handful of parsley stems, save the leaves for garnish
12 peppercorns
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Cherry tomatoes, sliced (for garnish, optional)
Creamy Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the fillets with foil or parchment paper. Lay the fillets out in the dish and scatter the remaining ingredients over. Pour enough boiling water over the fish to completely cover it.

Place the dish in the oven to poach for 30 minutes or until the fish feels done (we only poached for 20 minutes). Remove and allow the fish to cool in the liquid.

Transfer the fish to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley and tomatoes and serve room temperature with the sauce.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce

3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise (or homemade)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce (or to taste)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (we used 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir together all the ingredients until combined. The sauce can be made ahead and kept chilled.


  1. What a great holiday! Is fairy floss cotton candy--I remember in the UK it was "candy floss"--fun to see how the names change. Those photos of the fish look amazing, and I love this horseradish sauce--I've been wanting to think of more ways to use horseradish--one needs several uses as a little goes a long way, right? Happy New Year, maybe we'll meet up in 2012!

  2. Welcome back and Happy New Year! I'm glad you had such a good time in Australia. I love horseradish, so I'll definitely have to try this recipe.

  3. @Sara
    Thank you, Sara! Yes, fairy floss is cotton candy. Such a cute name for it, and I love the variety of flavors (saffron, pistachio, chocolate). It's not very sweet either - much tastier.

    I do hope we can meet sometime this year. Happy New Year to you!

  4. @Lauren
    Thank you, Lauren! I hope you enjoy the sauce. I'm a horseradish fan, too, so am always on the look out for new ways to use it. Happy 2012 to you!

  5. What a great vacation! The fish looks beautiful! The next time I come across perch in the market I'll have to try this one out on the family. Is the horseradish sauce really super hot?

  6. @Brooke
    Thank you, Brooke! The sauce is not very hot ... you can use as little or as much horseradish as you'd like to suit your tastes. I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Sounds like an amazing trip & that fish looks wonderful, I am big fan of poaching in the oven...so quick & easy!

  8. @Mairi @ Toast
    Thank you, Mairi! I'm definitely an oven-poaching convert. :)

  9. That fish looks gorgeous. Thanks for the recipe too. This will definitely get on my kitchen along with the meal replacements I have been drinking.

    1. I hope you enjoy it, Bethany! The poached fish is a very light dish (especially if you hold off on the sauce) and should be a good one with your meal replacement drinks.