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Published on October 11th, 2010 | by Gareth


Rainbow trout wrapped in pancetta

I recently went to one of Sydney’s Crave Food Festival events.  It was a seafood themed barbeque, with guest chefs from various Sydney restaurants behind the grill and tongs. In case you are wondering about the lemon, naturally fish and lemons are a perfect marriage.

Each diner paid $15 for a ticket to a sitting.  Being late we weren’t able to choose which menu or chef was to cook for us.  We were guided to a large white rectangular marquee, the type that you see at village craft shows housing a selection of homemade jams and sponge cakes on doilies made by the local Women’s Institute.  There were several long tables, each seated twelve people and featured a different dish.  At this point I was still none the wiser but excited at the forthcoming ocean offerings.  This is of course my lame excuse for ignoring most of the kindly sorts seated at our table, no honestly it was, well that and the slight feeling that I was all ‘niced’ out at that point.

The dish was rainbow trout wrapped in pancetta and served on fennel puree.  Well chaps and chapettes, I have to say this tasted absolutely smashing.  Fish, pancetta and barbeques are not the sort of combination that I expected to be a winner.  However, it definitely worked and surprisingly the fish stayed together in a tidy bundle.

The trout had been butterflied then stuffed with fregola in a tomato sauce, before being wrapped tightly in pancetta and then cooked on the barby.  End result: filling but light with a combination of beautifully complementary flavours.  Now the best part is I got the recipe to share with you from the chef ( who came to the table after the meal.  Great experience and even better value!


  • 4 rainbow trout (deboned and butterflied)
  • 200g thinly sliced pancetta
  • 6 whole large fennel bulbs
  • 100mls vegetable stock
  • 5g fennel seeds
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50g salted butter
  • 100mls extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g black olives (pitted)
  • 50mls Napolitana sauce
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 500g fregola
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

1 Punnet of baby basil – if can’t find this try the tips of fresh thyme.


Cook the fregola (a type of Italian pasta not dissimilar to cous cous) in boiling salted water for 3 minutes until cooked.  Strain (the fregola not yourself) and put aside to cool.  Chop the onion finely and 2 of the fennel bulbs.  Heat a pan and add 50ml of olive oil and the butter.  Add the fennel and onion and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Set aside.

In a third pot boil about a litre of water and add the tomatoes for 1 minute.  Transfer the tomatoes to iced water, remove the skins and de-seed.  Chop roughly and add to a pot with the basil (tied together with kitchen string) and olives.  Cook down for 10 minutes and add the Napoli sauce, then cook for a further 5 minutes.  Once the sauce has thickened remove the bunch of basil, add the fregola and seasoning and allow to cool.


Roughly chop the fennel.  Heat a pan and add the remaining olive oil.  Add the fennel and fennel seeds.  Stir to ensure the fennel does not catch or colour.  Add the vege stock and cover.  Allow to simmer until the fennel is tender and the stock has reduced.  Blend and then strain through a sieve.  Set aside in their original pot and keep the puree hot.


Lay the pancetta on a sheet of baking paper ensuring that each piece overlaps.  Lay the trout on top length ways, skin side facing down.  Spoon the fregola mix along one side of the trout, then fold the other side of the trout over.  Now wrap firmly in the pancetta.

Place the trout on a medium hot grill for about 8 minutes.  Turn the fish frequently but gently to ensure the pancetta is coloured evenly on all sides.

Serve on a bed of fennel puree and season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and baby basil (or thyme).

An image of pancetta wrapped rainbow trout

Does this count as surf and turf or is it surf and stye?

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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

6 Responses to Rainbow trout wrapped in pancetta

  1. Petal says:

    Awesome! I make a cod wrapped in Pancetta wich is yummo. I wish had access to some trout to try this :) and it sounds like a great experience. Are you going to do more of them?

    • Gareth says:

      Thanks Greta, Mmm cod sounds good. Wouldn’t mind the recipe for that one. Night markets with a noodle feature in Hyde park this week so watch this space.

  2. badmash says:

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

  3. Fran says:

    Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto is pretty good too especially on the BBQ. If you wanted this to be a carb free dish, can you suggest any alternative stuFfings?

    • Gareth says:

      I love monkfish, great idea must try that one out. Carb free? Hmmm was going to suggest cous cous or substituting the fragoli for alboria rice but they are carbs. What about replacing the fragoli with cherry tomatoes or chopped capsicum, perhaps like a ratatouille, could work.

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