How To Clean and Cook Trout

Trout can be simply baked, fried, poached, grilled or broiled. But the sauce makes a big difference in the taste.

Trout can be simply baked, fried, poached, grilled or broiled. But the sauce makes a big difference in the taste.

Trout can be the center of a very budget-friendly meal, especially when caught by family members. More than that, there’s a feeling of pride by providing food for the table. With Washington State lowland lakes opening last weekend it is fitting to feature trout preparation and cooking. But don’t limit yourself to fishing for trout because farm-raised trout are available from the grocer year-round.

Hatchery trout, often planted in lowland lakes, are fairly soft and require gentle care. The same goes for farm-raised trout, which can weigh up to 5 pounds.

Steelhead trout raised in Eastern Washington State, are handled like salmon. But here  are some tips and tricks for handling the little ones like rainbow, brook and brown trout.

  • Store them on ice and out of the sun while fishing.
  • To clean them, hold the tail and slide a knife from tail to shoulder to remove the scales on both sides.
  • Cut off the fins, gills and head.
  • Cut a slit from the anus to the shoulder and remove the intestines,
  • Scrape the blood next to the backbone and wash thoroughly. Now it’s ready to cook.

Smaller trout, kokanee, smelt, catfish and other thin fish under 12″ long can cooked in a fry pan as our family did years ago.

  • Simply put flour and any spice mixture in a bag.
  • Pat the fish with a paper towel to remove excess water.
  • Add a fish or two and shake the bag to coat with flour.
  • Cook in a little bit of hot vegetable oil just until the meat is flaky near the bones yet still moist.

TIP #1  With a fork, coax the meat away from the bones.

Tip #2 Thicker trout up to 16″ can be separated along the backbone and fried with the thinner fish.

Poached trout is best when citrus fruit and spices are added.

Poached trout is best when citrus fruit and spices are added.

Tip #3 For a healthier meal, wrap smaller fish in parchment paper. (no flour is needed but you can add spices and oranges for better flavor.)  Cook in an oven @350 degree for about 25 minutes until flaky/

Tip #4 If the trout is frozen, poaching or frying when it is almost thawed. I found that trout (and pink salmon) will lose its firmness after thawing out.