After strawberry picking at Sunny Ridge in Mornington, we decided to go cherry picking as well at a nearby place called Ripe ‘n’ Ready Cherry Farm. I was all ready for an afternoon of cherry stuffed bellies, climbing ladders and possibly fending off Asian tourists who are hogging all the good fruit. However, things didn’t turn out as planned. We drove through the farm and it daunted on me that there really wasn’t many good cherries on the trees. Most of the visible ones were pale red and looked very sour.
The 7 of us agreed in unison that we should go trout fishing instead of cherry picking just because we could. Turned out that Ripe ‘n’ Ready has a large trout fishing dam full of rainbow trout and as most of us had never gone trout fishing in a dam before, we were all quite keen to get our hands dirty. Entry into the dam cost $5 regardless of whether you catch anything. After that it’s $19 per kilo of what you catch. Again like strawberry picking, cost of actually buying the fish outside would be a bit cheaper, but you’re paying for the fun of catching your own fish and you know it’s definitely fresh.
When Yuye cast his line (with the help of the farm staff above), it took literally 2 seconds for a trout to bite the bait. Yuye’s fun was instantly over.
It was a reasonably good sized fish and a lively one at that. It jumped out of Yuye’s hands as we were taking photos and he had to catch it on the ground and put it back into the bucket.
After Yuye’s turn, one after another, people caught their own fish. My fish was one of the biggest ones! I couldn’t even pick it up because it was so heavy and I was afraid the line was going to snap.Since everyone caught a fish, the next thing to do was scatter fish food into the dam while the fish we caught get cleaned.
We threw them in little by little at the start and every time a few trout would jump and fight for the food. After a while, we thought, why not just throw the whole thing in and get a burst of happiness from it rather than in little increments? And so we did. This was the result.
6 fish were caught in total and the average weight for each one was around 1kg. After we got back, we split the ones we wanted to take home that night and left 2 of the largest for a BBQ the next day.
As the fish insides were already cleaned, all we had to do was clean the scales. It was no easy feat though as the scales on trout are very small and required a lot of hard scraping. As there were two trouts, we wanted to make two different types so one was lemon and herbs (using all herbs from our friend’s herb garden) and the other was a Chinese style one with ginger, spring onions and a soy dipping sauce. Refer below for recipes.Recipes by Yuye
Recipe based on roughly a 1kg trout. Other types of fish can also be substituted. Make sure your fish is scaled, guttered and cleaned before cooking and wash and pat dry the skin.
Chinese trout with ginger, spring onions and soy based sauceIngredients:
– Roughly 5cm of ginger
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 3 stalks of spring onions
– coriander to garnish
– cooking oil
– 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon mirin (can be substituted with 1 tablespoon rice wine + rock sugar to taste)
– 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
– Splash of dark soy
– splash of sesame oil
1. Peel and thinly slice ginger
2. Cut spring onions into roughly 5cm lengths. Shred 3/4 of the spring onions (for garnish) and leave remaining spring onions for stuffing
3. Crush garlic with side of knife and peel skin4. Make 3 cuts on each side of the fish deep enough for stuffing
5. Lightly salt the fish all over and rub the salt into the skin
5. Stuff 1-2 pieces of spring onions and 1 piece of ginger into each cut and stuff remaining spring onions, ginger and garlic into the stomach of the fish
6. Lightly coat skin of fish with oil7. Wrap fish in a few layers of aluminium foil, making sure there are no holes so that juices don’t flow out and overcook the fish.
8. Place fish on BBQ (or oven) at 200 degrees for around 15-20 minutes. Depending on the size of the fish, cooking time will be different so please check the fish after 10 minutes if you don’t want it to overcook. If cooking on a BBQ like we did, make sure you close the lid for a more even cook.
9. While fish is cooking on the BBQ/oven, fry shredded spring onions in lots of oil (enough to cover all of the spring onions and a little bit more). Salt spring onions and cook until wilted. Keep spring onions on low heat until fish is ready to be served. When fish is ready, pour spring onions on the fish while still hot to make the fish skin slightly crispy.10. Mix together sauce mixture. If you’re using rock sugar or regular sugar, make sure you dissolve them first or else you will get lumps of sugar on the fish. Pour sauce onto the entire fish and serve.
Note:If oyster sauce is unavailable, it can be omitted. If miring is unavailable, it can be substituted with 1 tablespoon rice wine and rock sugar (to taste). A little bit of sweetness will make the dipping sauce more tasty and not as intense.
Also note that in order for the skin to not stick to the aluminium foil, it’s best to line the bottom of the fish with a leafed veggie such as spinach. However, we didn’t have spinach on hand so this was not done and the skin was firmly stuck on the foil. This applies for both recipes.
Lemon & herb troutIngredients:
– 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
– 1 bunch sage
– 1 bunch rosemary
– 1 bunch oregano
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1 lemon
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
1. Roughly chop sage, rosemary, parsley and oregano, leaving one sprig of rosemary for placing on top.
2. Slice 1/2 lemon into thin slices
3. Hit garlic cloves with side of knife and peel skin
4. Make 3 diagonal cuts along each side of the fish, deep enough to stuff herbs in.
5. Rub salt and pepper all over the fish
6. Stuff chopped herbs and lemon pieces into the cuts and inside the fish, using roughly 3/4 of the parsley. Stuff garlic cloves inside the fish.
7. Splash olive oil on the fish enough to roughly cover the surface
8. Wrap fish in a few layers of aluminium foil, making sure there are no holes so that juices don’t flow out and overcook the fish.9. Place fish on BBQ (or oven) at 200 degrees for around 15-20 minutes. Depending on the size of the fish, cooking time will be different so please check the fish after 10 minutes if you don’t want it to overcook. If cooking on a BBQ like we did, make sure you close the lid for a more even cook. If there are no lids on your BBQ, turn the fish over about half way through cooking.
10. Remove fish from grill or oven, top with remaining parsley to give it a fresher look and taste and add juice of remaining half lemon. More salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Not all types of herbs mentioned above have to be used so can be omitted if unavailable. Other herbs can also be substituted, such as dill and basil.
We didn’t really salt the fish that much so there wasn’t much taste apart from the natural fresh, tender and juicy flesh that was oh so delicious anyway. The extra zing from the squeezed lemon really helps to articulate the flavours and we actually ended up dipping some of the meat in the Chinese version’s sauce. But truth is, I think most of us liked the Chinese version more purely because of the sauce as it added so much flavour to the fish.We also ate the fish with herbed potatoes on the side.
I lie. We actually ate all the potatoes before the fish even finished cooking. We were quite hungry that day.
I always thought raw fish was better than cooked because fish is easy to overcook and can become fibrous and dry. However, if the cooking process is timed properly and enough flavour is allowed to go through, the flesh can be very tender and juicy and totally delicious, even for me who usual prefer red meat or poultry over fish any day of the week.In terms of trout fishing, I think it was a little overrated. Yes, it was very fun while we were catching the fish, but the amount of fun we had was quite short relative to regular fishing where you have to sit there for hours and perhaps not catch anything. I like playing the waiting game, it makes me more excited when I catch my prey. 😛 I loved regular fishing the few times I went and really want to do that again.
Question time: Have you ever gone trout fishing? Would you do it again or would you rather purchase your fish?
Ripe ‘n’ Ready Cherry Farm
Phone: (03) 5989 2578 or 0419 561 806
52 Arkwells Lane, Red Hill (can also enter via 795 White Hill Rd, Red Hill), VIC