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Victor Gordon’s “trout & berries.”

This assembly rally is smoked trout in a complex, sweet and piquant sauce composed of bedrock English elements. The use of gooseberries to sauce oily fish is ancient, the alternative blackberries also traditional but not old. Four simple and elegant starters.

  • gooseberries.jpg½ lb gooseberries or blackberries
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • a minced shallot
  • about a Tablespoon soft brown sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, more or less
  • 2 teaspoons English prepared mustard (like Colman’s)
  • about 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • watercress
  • 4 skinned smoked trout fillets


  1. Simmer your chosen berries with the vinegar, shallot, sugar and cayenne until the mixture looks like jam, then stir the mustard into the mix.
  2. Get the oil very hot and fry the mustard seed until they pop, stir in the ‘jam’ and turn off the heat.
  3. Throw a layer of watercress onto each plate, top it with a fillet, and smear each one with the hot sauce.



-As Gordon himself notes in an uncharacteristic nod to the unfresh, the use of frozen fruit will not harm the sauce.

-He always serves the dish with brown (whole wheat) bread. “A crunch element,” he thinks, “like radish or raw young turnip is a pleasant addition.”

-“A similar sauce can be made using blackberry or gooseberry jam but omitting the brown sugar and increasing the ration of vinegar and mustard.” In its way this simpler alternative is even more intriguing.

-Quotations are from page 40 of Gordon’s English Cookbook.