Smoked Trout & Gouda Cheese Ball
- 8 oz vacuum sealed smoked trout
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup shredded Gouda
- zest and juice 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 loose cup baby watercress (if the watercress is too big, coarsely chop it)
- Remove the skin and any bones from the fish. Cut into 2-inch squares. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cream cheese, Gouda, lemon juice/zest, horseradish, sour cream, and spices. Using the paddle attachment, on low, slowly mix together the ingredients until a fairly uniform mixture forms.
- Place the watercress in a shallow bowl.
- If the mixture isn’t too soft (mine wasn’t), mold into a ball and roll in the watercress. Press the watercress into the sides of the ball and shape. If your mixture is very soft, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before rolling in the watercress.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hrs. I’ve had good luck refrigerating it with the watercress already in place but you can wait to do that step until it is ready to serve. Allow to sit at room temperature about 10 minutes prior to serving.
This originally appeared a year ago on my tinned fish Patreon.
Switching away from tinned fish today in favor of another way to find preserved seafood—in vacuum-sealed plastic packages. I bought this trout at Trader Joe’s but any well-stocked supermarket or specialty food store should have it. It doesn’t have quite the extravagantly long expiration date of tinned fish but it is normally at least a month away from the date of purchase or longer.
I love smoked trout because it is a meaty fish that delivers a robust smoky fishy flavor that can really hold its own against bold flavors like the horseradish I used here. It is also a less oily fish than salmon or sable (which is used to make whitefish salad) which I think makes it a better choice in a cheeseball like this one or for a “lighter” smoked fish salad.
The holidays are coming so I thought it would be fun to share an easy, holiday-worthy way to serve preserved fish. I went with stronger flavors that wouldn’t get lost in the cream cheese but that also wouldn’t overpower the trout. Horseradish and mustard powder are perfect for this, they have an earthy heat that cuts through creaminess but can also be tempered by it. The final cheese ball is surprisingly mellow but well-flavored.
Traditionally cheeseballs are rolled in nuts and while I like that, I feel like it makes them a little heavy. For a more delicately textured cheeseball like this one, I like to use minced herbs or in this case, peppery watercress. Watercress has been in all my local supermarkets the last few years and it’s been a real boon to my cooking. It is great raw or cooked and has a sharp flavor that I love. I just popped off the largest of the stems and left them whole but you could coarsely chop them, just take care that the cheeseball is fully covered or it will stick to everything.
I will be honest and say we ate this for lunch on more than one day. It is totally acceptable to do this and it is acceptable (encouraged, even!) to make a cheeseball for a very small Covid-19 compliant social gathering. It keeps just fine in the fridge and if I was you, I’d save some just to have on a bagel the next day.