Ever since Finnish chef Pasi Petanen opened his innovative restaurant Cafe Paci – first in Darlinghurst and now permanently in Newtown – he’s been introducing his favourite childhood dishes to Sydneysiders with bilingual twists. One of those dishes is the ever-popular XO trout dumplings, an Italian- and Cantonese-inspired take on Finnish staples: potato and trout.

“I grew up on fish and potatoes and dill,” says Petanen. “It’s the classic combination for Finns.”

His Cafe Paci dish is “pretty easy” he says, “Just get fresh trout from your fishmonger. Ideally one side of trout (which is about $40). Then you can cook a big batch of XO and freeze the rest. It lasts in the fridge for a couple of weeks.”

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When dining at the inner-west restaurant, wine expert Giorgio De Maria would recommend pairing this dish with a natural or biodynamic drop, usually from a small-scale producer. When making this at home, Petanen says the unctuous dish goes well with a skin-contact rosé-style wine from 100 per cent aglianico, a black grape grown in south Italy. (Specifically 2018’s Cantina Giardino Rosato Anfora Magnum, which is made and aged in Japanese porcelain pots for an earthy but elegant style.)

During Sydney’s lockdown, Cafe Paci has been making assemble-and-eat packs for locals to take away – including slices of its famed potato-and-molasses-glazed sourdough with whipped butter. If you live within five kilometres of the restaurant you can order the XO trout dumplings along with a citrusy side salad to cut through the rich sauce.

Keen to try more of Petanen’s traditional Finnish dishes at home? He’s sharing a few on Cafe Paci’s website, including a one-pan beef and pork meatballs and sticky-sweet Berlin doughnuts.

Pasi Petanen’s XO trout dumplings
Serves 6–8
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

1kg Dutch cream potatoes
110g baker's flour
100g potato starch
1 egg yolk

XO trout sauce
400g ocean trout, skin off, bones removed, diced into 1-centimetre pieces
50ml fish sauce
2 tsp sweet paprika
150g eschalots, diced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 long red chillies, seeds removed
150ml vegetable oil
150g butter
150ml Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp vegetarian oyster sauce

For the XO sauce, combine the trout with the fish sauce. Set aside to cure for 30 minutes.

Rinse off and pat dry, then add to a warm non-stick frying pan over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon, pressing trout slightly until it starts breaking down into a floss-like texture (around 30 minutes).

Once the trout has completely broken down into dry fibres, add sweet paprika. Place trout fibres on a paper towel to absorb excess fat, then combine with butter and vegetable oil in a clean saute pan and cook over medium heat until the butter starts foaming (approximately 4–5 minutes).

Add shallots, garlic and diced chilli and cook over low heat stirring constantly until the mixture becomes dry. Add cooking wine and reduce it until completely dry again. Remove from heat, season with brown sugar, light soy sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce, and black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until required. (XO sauce can be made up to one week in advance. Keep refrigerated.)

To make the dumplings, boil potatoes in salted water for 45 minutes until tender. Drain, then while still warm, peel potatoes and put them through a mouli or a potato ricer. Be sure to work very fast, then fold flour and 10g salt into potato and mix quickly with a spatula, then add egg yolk.

Sprinkle flour on a benchtop and place dough on the bench, then roll dough into 1cm-thick logs, and cut into small dumplings.

Transfer dumplings to a tray with extra flour and set aside. (Any uncooked dumplings can be frozen for future use).

Boil salted water in a saucepan and cook dumplings for 2 minutes, until they float.

Meanwhile, heat XO sauce in a deep frying pan over low heat until hot and foaming. Drain dumplings and add to sauce, toss to combine and serve.

This recipe is shared with Broadsheet via Cafe Paci owner and chef Pasi Petanen.

Looking for more recipe ideas? See Broadsheet’s recipe hub.