Recipe for sustainability

A good catch: how to cook sustainable rainbow trout from Montagu

After a visit to a freshwater trout farm in Montagu in the Western Cape, food writer and author Georgia East cooks up a delicious recipe showcasing its fish

27 November 2019 - 16:23 By Georgia East
Two Dam Sustainable rainbow trout is an affordable, delicious fish.
Two Dam Sustainable rainbow trout is an affordable, delicious fish.
Image: Georgia East

Although it's completely unsustainable, salmon is still making recurring appearances on restaurant plates countrywide. Fortunately, there is an alternative – farmed right here in South Africa – that offers the same nutritional value and great flavour of salmon, but without the impact on the earth - or one’s wallet.

Green-listed by the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), farmed trout is fast becoming a viable replacement for both wild-caught and farmed Norwegian salmon.

Since 2015, Two Dam Sustainable has been farming rainbow trout in a manner that is ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. From their location in the Montagu valley, husband-and-wife team Marco and Vivian Harms sell their fresh, cured and smoked trout products to restaurants in the surrounding areas, as well as delivering to Cape Town bimonthly.

Offering customers the option of ordering by e-mail or purchasing products through various resellers, Two Dam Sustainable is making affordable, delicious fish readily available to home cooks.

From their buttery cold-smoked trout gravlax (cured in salt, sugar, dill, lemon zest and black pepper) to hot oak-smoked trout fillets with mustard seeds and “traviar” (salt-cured trout roe), every item produced by Two Dam is the product of a carbon-neutral farming process.

Striving for an extremely high level of sustainability, both for farming and daily life, Two Dam runs almost entirely off renewable energy and is 100% off-grid.

Two Dam runs almost entirely off renewable energy and is 100% off-grid

Through the use of a recirculating aquaculture system - the only one of its kind in South Africa - Two Dam cuts down its electricity use and  uses only around 5% of its total volume of water per day.

Bio-filters encourage the growth of healthy bacteria that create a clean environment for the fish, while the nutrient-rich water from the tanks is collected in settlement dams and used as fertiliser for the farm’s pecan and fruit trees.

All packaging used for Two Dam’s trout products is made from recycled plastic and can easily be recycled further once used.

Two Dam Sustainable also offers eco-friendly and off-grid accommodation on the farm (find out more here).

Fresh whole trout is best cooked as simply as possible. Using a hot oven is the easiest way to do this.

Stuff it with lemon and dill and serve with a creamy clam and caper sauce, seared asparagus and steamed new potatoes - you've got an elegant dinner-party option.

Trout is excellent when simply cooked whole and served with a creamy sauce made with clams.
Trout is excellent when simply cooked whole and served with a creamy sauce made with clams.
Image: Georgia East


Serves: 4

  • 1kg whole trout, cleaned
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 20g fresh dill
  • Coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Butter

For the sauce:

  • Butter
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 30ml baby capers
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 250ml fresh cream
  • 500g fresh white clams or small mussels, scrubbed
  • 5-6 sprigs dill, finely chopped
  • Coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Use a kitchen towel to pat the fish dry. Season inside the belly cavity with salt and pepper and pack in the dill and as many lemon slices that will fit.
  3. Rub butter over the skin of the trout and place the fish on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  4. Cook the trout for 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is no longer translucent (it’s always better to slightly undercook than to overdo trout).
  5. While the trout is cooking, make the clam sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in a little butter until they are soft. Add the garlic and capers and leave to cook for a minute or so before deglazing the saucepan with white wine.
  6. Pour in the cream, season to taste and leave the sauce to reduce over a low heat.
  7. Once the sauce is thickened, add in the clams, closing the lid of the saucepan to allow for steaming.
  8. Once all the clams are open, scatter over the fresh dill and add a squeeze of lemon.
  9. To serve, remove the dill and lemon slices from the cavity of the trout and arrange the fish on a large serving dish. Spoon over the clam sauce and serve immediately with a side of seared asparagus and steamed new potatoes.
This dish is perfect for a casual dinner party.
This dish is perfect for a casual dinner party.
Image: Georgia East

Wine suggestion: Lords Sauvignon Blanc 2019 has lush grassy notes and a finely balanced acidity that will set off the rich unctuousness of the fish and cream-based sauce.