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Chef Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Franschhoek Valley Verdure

Chef Callan Austin won the S.Pellegrino Social Responsibility Award for the Africa & Middle East Region. 

12 October, 2020
Average: 2 (26 votes)

Season & Occasion

serves for


total time

2 HR 0 MIN


For the cure
1 x medium sized, , filleted and skinned. Reserve the bones, head, skin and any trimmings.
400 g
Limoncello salt
100 g
Caster sugar
500 g
20 g, chopped
Coriander seeds
5 g, toasted
Black peppercorns
5 g, toasted
For the herbed emulsion
500ml, plain, thick (preferably homemade)
50 g, washed
10 g, whased
Fennel fronds
50g, picked and washed
Vanilla paste
½ teaspoon
Lemon zest
1 teaspoon, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Japanese –style horseradish mayonnaise
Japanese-style/kewpie mayonnaise
500 ml
Horseradish sauce
5 tablespoons
Lime zest
1 teaspoon, finely chopped
Black pepper
to taste, cracked
Side salad
Black radishes
3, thinly sliced
200g, shaved using a peeler
Broccoli, tender stem
200g, shaved using a peeler
Wild sweet pea shoots
Wood sorrel
(leaves and flowers)
Black pepper
Dressing of the side salad
Extra virgin olive oil
Trout skin
Reserved and scraped of any scales and flesh
Canola oil
500 ml
Trout bones, head and trimmings
100 g (preferably homemade)
35 g, bronoise
Red onion
35 g, bronoise
1 tsp, chopped
Lemon juice
1 tsp
Lemon zest
1 tsp
Tagarashi spice
1 tsp
For finishing and plating
Tub yuzu caviar
Toasted coriander seeds
Smoked Maldon salt
Angel hair chili
Foraged herbs and flowers
rosemary flowers, serradella flowers and shoots, chickweed, sweet wild pea shoots, fern, wood sorrel leaves and flowers, African fennel and wild mustard flowers

The Franschhoek Valley enjoys an abundance of delightful seasonal produce, allowing for constant culinary exploration. This is a dish formed around the beauty that spring brings to the valley and the recipe uses many foraged herbs, flowers, and leaves that you may not be able to find in your region. They can be replaced with local equivalents.

The point of this dish is to utilise the whole fish by turning what some might consider undesirable, into a delightful canapé to impress any guest. Verdure is defined as “lush green vegetation” or “a condition of freshness”. 

The excessive winter rain creates cold rivers, rich in oxygen, and creates the perfect environment for trout to spawn. This fills the rivers and dams with fingerlings that will grow just in time for spring. The valley begins to turn a vibrant green from all the fresh foliage, with blossoming flowers emerging, all ripe for the picking.

Discover the easy-to-follow recipe below:

Step 01

For Cured trout by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

For cured trout

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. 


Step 02

trout fillets in a tray by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

In a baking tray big enough for the trout fillets, pack a thin layer of the cure mix, about 1cm, on the bottom of the tray.

Step 03

whasing fillet By Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Once cured, remove the fillet from the cure and wash off any excess cure mix under cold running water.

Smoke the trout until the fillet isn’t visible anymore. Pull the pipe out and make sure the tray is wrapped tight so no smoke escapes.

Allow for the fish to cold smoke in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once smoked sufficiently, portion the fillet into 5mm slices and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed.

Chef tips: an alternative to a smoking tray is a barbecue.

Step 04

Cooking the spinach by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Herbed emulsion

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.

Blanch the baby spinach and watercress by submerging them in the boiling water for no longer than 5 seconds, then plunge the blanched leaves into the ice water so that they retain their vibrant green colour. Allow them to cool completely before you remove them.

Once cold, remove the leaves from the ice water and squeeze all the excess water out of them. Pat them dry using a tea towel.

Step 05

Spinach in a blender by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Place the blanched and refreshed leaves and the remaining ingredients, except the oil, in a blender, and blend on a high speed until the mixture turns bright green. If the mixture appears thin, slowly add the oil in small increments while the emulsion blends until it thickens.  

Store in a squeeze bottle in the fridge until needed.

Step 06

Mayonnaise by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

For Japanese-style horseradish mayonnaise

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until thoroughly combined.

Store in a squeeze bottle in the fridge until needed.

Chef tips: The Japanese horseradish mayonnaise is simply Kewpie mayo that has horseradish blended through it . 

Step 07

Scrape the fish skin by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Puffed fish skin

Scrape the fish skin free of any excess meat and scales.

Step 08

boil and blanch the skin by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the skin for 20 seconds, then remove.

Step 09

The fillet skin by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

On a metal tray lined with parchment paper, spread the skin flat and evenly, and dehydrate in a dehydrator or oven set to 50 degrees Celsius overnight until crisp.

Cut the fish skin using scissors into roughly 2cm x 3cm shards.

Heat a pot of oil until smoking hot and, using tweezers, plunge one fish skin shard at a time in the hot oil until it puffs up significantly. Remove from the oil and allow excess oil to drain on a paper towel.

Store the puffed fish skin in an airtight container, preferably with a tab of silica in the container to maintain freshness.

Step 10

trout trimmings by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

Smoked and pulled trout trimmings

Set up your smoking tray and smoke your trout trimmings (head, bones and belly offcuts), ensuring that the tray doesn’t get too hot by controlling the amount of heat by removing the tray every now and then. Smoke like this for about 8 minutes, then remove the tray of smoked fish trimmings and cook through in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius until the meat fibres separate easily.

Pick all the meat from the bones and head and reserve in a bowl.

Preheat an oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Wrap the garlic cloves, still with their skin on, in tin foil and roast for 45 minutes until soft.

Push the garlic out of its skin and use a knife to scrape it into a paste.

Combine the smoked and picked trout, roast garlic paste, gherkin, red onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest and dill in a bowl and mix the ingredients together.

Chef tips: an alternative to a smoking tray is a barbecue.

Step 11

Canape plate by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin


I have created 3 separate plates that turn each plate into an element as a collective of one dish.
This makes it much more manageable to recreate at home, where you can have a whole plate of the sliced trout and a bowl of the side salad in the centre of your table for guests to dish, share, and discuss. 
Accompanied by mouth wateringly tasty and sustainable canapes to serve before the meal, it’s perfect to showcase your newly-found foraging knowledge at any diner party.


  • Puffed trout skin
  • Hot smoked trout trimmings with roasted garlic aioli
  • Locally foraged herbs and flowers


Step 12

Plate 1 by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin


  • 2-hour cured, 1-hour cold-smoked locally-caught Franschhoek trout
  • Leeu Estate grown watercress, nasturtium and baby spinach emulsion
  • Japanese-style horseradish mayonnaise
  • Yuzu caviar (store bought)
  • Foraged wild herbs and flowers


Step 13

Plate 2 by Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin


  • Shaved Leeu Estate tender stem broccoli, asparagus and black radish
  • Local herbs and flowers, including, wild sweet pea, nasturtium, wood sorrel and chickweed, serradella shoot
  • 16 month infused Le Coin Francais limoncello and Leeu Estate extra virgin olive oil dressing

Step 14

Callan Austin

Courtesy of Chef Callan Austin

The final dish. 

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