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Pan Seared Trout, Gnocchi and Dates | Easton Calls

Pan Seared Trout

We made a lovely Pan Seared Trout with Gnocchi and Dates after our fly fishing adventure on the Itchen River in Easton. Whilst on our trip to the UK, Marc and I decided to go fly fishing. Saturday afternoon we found ourselves in the glorious late summer sunshine on the banks of Itchen river going after some beautiful trout.

Your fly is Down

Neither of us had ever fly fished before, I’m not sure Marc has ever actually fished at all. We started with a lesson from a fishing guide named Justin. Turns out fly fishing is much more finesse than any kind of fishing I’ve ever done. I’m used to ocean bait casting in the warm tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, essentially you fling a shrimp on a hook in the water and make it dance somewhere near the bottom hoping a fish swim’s by.

Therefore, I found fly fishing was much more delicate and far greater effort its sort of, “swish and flick”. Essentially the lure weighs nothing, but the fishing line has weight. This means when casting you swish the line above you very intentionally, when you sort of have the line trailing the rod like a bull whip, you lay it out on the water. So fun to do, except it needs to be done gently and, most challengingly, just past the fish you want to lure.

Sexy and Alluring

Once that lure is out past your target, then you “strip” the line, essentially tugging it in, as to make the lure impersonate a sexy delicious a bug under water. When you get it right the lure looks alive. Now it gets fun, if you are sexy and alluring enough the fish get really interested. The sort of look like “hello sailor, new in town” interested. The game is afoot, the fish will follow the lure, so you need to play with the fish enough to get them to bite, but more often they lose interest. Once they bite you set the hook and wear them out by reeling them in and letting them back out, before hauling them into the net at the riverbank.

The One that Got Away

Marc successfully hooked three, and landed one, which was the biggest of the day. I hooked 5 and landed three. We are both sure that the largest ones never got to shore. All that was left is crack them in the head with a rock, if you know Marc or I, you can guess how many each of us cracked. Rick 3, Jason our guide 1, and Marc, well he is a kinder person than we are. Although it seems Marc has discovered his inner cave man, now saying he is actually a hunter at heart, except for the inconvenient problem that hunting requires killing I think he is right.

Filleted And Ready For The Pan

We caught 4 large-ish salmon trout about the length of a forearm, probably a kilo each. We (read me) had to gut, and fillet them, you can go the store and purchase a small fillet of any trout or white fish for this. These filets we about ¾ of an inch (2 cm) at the thickest, and they were probably 8 inches (20 cm) long. The goal is to cook them entirely on the skin, so they can’t be too thick or you will need to broil.

Pan Seared Trout with Gnocchi and Dates

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By Rick Britt Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes

We used a lovely fresh caught trout, but store bought fillets will work nicely just ensure they are not too thick.


  • 4 Trout or whitefish fillets on the thinner side skin on
  • Accompanying Sauce
  • 2 oz 56g Bacon chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed but not broken apart
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • ½ cup 120ml white wine, plus a bit more reserved.
  • Finishing
  • 1 oz 28g pine nuts toasted lightly in a dry pan
  • 16 or so Samphire sprigs a salty seaweed from Israel, can be omitted if you cannot find
  • 8 dates halved
  • 6 basil leaves cut in ribbons and halved
  • 20 Gnocchi 5 per plate



Gnocchi Prep


Bring a pot of water to boil for the Gnocchi


Begin Making the Sauce


In a large sauté pan cook the bacon until crisp with a good glug of olive oil, then add garlic. Remove the garlic as it begins to brown. Then add the shallots, cook until translucent. Pour in white wine (take care its hot oil in there) and reduce by ½. Remove from heat.


Add the samphire, dates and basil.


Searing the Fish


In another sauté pan bring a good knob of butter and a good glug of olive oil to medium high heat. The butter will begin to brown, but the olive oil will keep it from burning. Carefully lay the fillets in the pan skin down. They will sizzle a lot. Let them cook for 5 minutes spoon hot oil over the fillets about mid-way and lift in the center allowing more hot oil under each fillet.


Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and bring the sauce back to a simmer. When the gnocchi floats move it to the sauce and stir it in, remove from heat immediately. Check and adjust seasoning.


At the end of the 5 minutes the fish has been cooking, cover and let the fish steam for 3-5 more minutes until fully cooked.


Plate and Serve


Lay a fillet on each plate crispy skin down. And spread the ingredients evenly, 5 gnocchi, 4 date halves and some samphire on each plate, and spoon the remaining sauce with shallots on the plate, not over the fish. Sprinkle each fillet with a small amount of sea salt and toasted pine nuts and serve.


If samphire is difficult to get, then it can be omitted, it is a very salty flavor, so ensure you season perfectly to adjust for not having it

Plate and Serve

Lay a fillet on each plate crispy skin down. And spread the ingredients evenly, 5 gnocchi, 4 date halves and some samphire on each plate, and spoon the remaining sauce with shallots on the plate, not over the fish. Sprinkle each fillet with a small amount of sea salt and toasted pine nuts and serve.

Wine Matching

We served a Villebois Prestige Sauvignon Blanc 2017. More than just a label. When Joost says ‘prestige’ he means ‘prestige’. And boy oh boy does this delicious Loire Sauvignon deserve its name. Classic, refined and dry. This luxurious drop has all the sophistication and character of a Sancerre. Except it’s not. Because that would be illegal. Grab yourself a hunk of creamy goats cheese, some posh crackers, and go wild. Available from Naked Wines

A Bit More on Samphire

Although we have seen Marsh Samphire being used on TV cooking shows we didn’t have the opportunity to try it till we went to Tel Aviv recently. We loved it.

Marsh samphire is widely available. Marsh samphire has vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste. It can be used raw in salad, though it tends to be very salty so it is more often boiled or steamed for a few minutes. Occasionally you may also find jars of pickled samphire in gourmet shops.

Chefs Note: Wash thoroughly under cold running water before eating.

Buy samphire as you need it – it doesn’t keep for long. If you must, tightly wrap and refrigerate for not longer than a few days.

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