A dish using crystal-clear aspic is always impressive, and home-made aspic has a flavour that is well worth the effort to make.
1.5 litres (3 pints) water
Pinch salt and 6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves and 2 parsley stalks
1 small onion, diced
280 ml (1/2 pint) dry white wine
4 even-sized rainbow trout, gutted and well washed
2 egg whites
30 g (2 level tbsps) powdered gelatine
Lemon slices, capers and sprigs of fresh dill for garnish
1. Combine the water, vinegar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stalks, sliced onion and wine in a large saucepan or fish kettle. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
2. Cool slightly and add the fish. Cover and bring back to the simmering point. Allow the fish to cook gently for 5 minutes. Cool in the liquid, uncovered, until lukewarm.
3. Carefully remove the fish, drain and peel the skin off both sides while the fish is still slightly warm. Strain the liquid and reserve it.
4. Carefully lift the fillets from both sides of the trout, taking care not to break them up. Make sure they are completely free of skin and bones and place them on individual plates, or onto one large serving plate that has a slight well in the centre.
5. Pour the reserved fish cooking liquid into a large, deep saucepan and add the egg whites. Place the pan over the heat and whisk by hand using a wire balloon whisk. Allow the mixture to come to the boil, whisking constantly. Egg whites should form a thick frothy crust on top.
6. Stop whisking and allow the liquid and egg whites to boil up the side of the pan. Take off the heat and allow to subside. Repeat the process twice more and then leave to settle.
7. Line a colander with several thicknesses of paper towels or a clean tea towel. Place in a bowl and pour the fish cooking liquid and the egg white into the colander. Leave to drain slowly. Do not allow the egg white to fall into the clarified liquid.
8. When all the liquid has drained through, remove about 280 ml (1/2 pint) and dissolve the gelatine in it. Heat again very gently if necessary to dissolve the gelatine thoroughly. Return the gelatine to the remaining stock, place the bowl in a bowl of ice water to help thicken the gelatine.
9. Decorate the trout and the base of the dish with lemon slices, capers and fresh dill. When the aspic has become syrupy and slightly thickened, spoon carefully over the decoration to set it. Place in the refrigerator until set.
10. The aspic may be reheated gently by placing the bowl in a pan of hot water. Do not stir the aspic too vigorously or bubbles will form. Chill again until almost set and cover the trout completely in a layer of aspic. Place in the refrigerator until completely set and serve cold.