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Trout

Also indexed as: Arctic Char, Rainbow Trout, Steelhead

Illustration

Preparation, uses, and tips

With their thin skin and tiny scales, trout do not need scaling and are often cooked whole. To fillet larger fish, use a sharp, thin knife. With the trout lying on its side, insert the knife behind the gills, and cut in an arc down to just above the backbone. Continue cutting parallel to the backbone toward the tail. Bring the knife up at the tail and remove the fillet.

To bone, use scissors to snip off the pelvic fin (the forward belly fin) and use a sharp knife to cut off the dorsal fin (on the back) and anal fin (the rear belly fin). Remove the head with a sharp knife. Using a sharp knife, open the belly cavity, reach inside, and cut through the tiny ribs on each side of the backbone. Pull backbone free, scraping away flesh with a sharp knife. Then gently lift out ribs with a knife. Run you fingers over the flesh to make sure all bones are gone.

Baking

Rinse fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Whole trout may be stuffed with rice and vegetables. Place whole, boned filleted trout in a baking pan. Brush with butter and oil and season with salt and pepper, or cover with a piquant sauce. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) until a knife slice in the thickest part reveals the flesh to be opaque but still moist.

Grilling

Place whole small fish or fillets on perforated aluminum foil over a greased grill, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade, and close hood of grill. Cook until opaque and moist on the inside, 6 to 8 minutes for fish less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick; 10 to 15 minutes for fish larger than 1-inch (2.5cm) thick.

Broiling

Rinse whole fish, fillets, or boned and butterflied trout, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fish on a rack above a baking dish. Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack so fish is 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10cm) from the element. Brush with butter or oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, 3 to 10 minutes, depending on size of the fish.

Frying

Rinse trout, and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge in flour and seasonings if desired. Shake off any excess flour. Heat frying pan until hot, then add butter or oil. Put in fillets and cook, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, 2 to 10 minutes, depending upon size of the fish.

Poaching

Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, and herbs and spices, to a simmer. Slip trout in, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about 8 minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) of thickness.

Steaming

Place trout on a greased perforated rack over 1 to 2 inches (about 2.5 to 5cm) of rapidly boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep water at a constant boil through cooking time, 8 to 10 minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) thickness of fish.

Buying and storing tips

Quality trout is easy to recognize. Fresh trout never smells fishy, it smells fresh. The eyes should appear bright and clear, almost alive. The gills should be reddish, and the skin covered with clear, slippery slime. Very fresh trout should be so slippery they are difficult to hold. Fresh trout flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape. Keep trout cool on the trip from the catch point or market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long.

To store trout, remove packaging, rinse fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Trout will store well this way for up to two days.

When well-wrapped, trout can be frozen for up to two months in a refrigerator freezer compartment and three to four months in a deep-freeze. Use lined freezer paper and wrap fish tightly from head to tail with at least two layers of paper. To thaw slowly, unwrap, place fish in pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the whole fish (in a watertight bag) in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 1/2 hour per pound (454g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave allowing 2 to 5 minutes per pound (454g), with equal standing time in between zaps.

Varieties

Rainbow trout, native to the United States, are raised in concrete troughs wherever an abundant source of clean water is available. The flesh is mild, delicate, and sweet. Steelhead trout has pink flesh and a mild trout taste. Most rainbow and steelhead available on the market is farm-raised. Arctic char, another trout family fish, either dwells in lakes or lives in salt water, but spawns in fresh water. Whether wild-caught or farm raised, its flesh varies from pink to red, depending on the size. Wild-caught lake trout (also called togue or gray trout) has a higher oil content than other trout and its flesh may be white or pink.

Trout is nearly always sold whole and gutted. Boneless trout is also available.

Nutrition Highlights

Trout (farmed), 3 oz. (85g) (cooked, dry heat)
Calories: 144
Protein: 20.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 6.1g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Niacin (7.5mg), and Vitamin B12 (4.2mcg)
*Good source of: Pantothenic acid (1.1mg), and Selenium (12.7mcg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

When cooked (dry heat), trout (rainbow, wild) provides 1.175 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA (0.468g), DHA (0.52g), and ALA (0.187 grams), per 100 grams of trout (rainbow, wild). When cooked (dry heat), trout (rainbow, farmed) provides 1.236 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA (0.334g), DHA (0.82g), and ALA (0.082g), per 100 grams of trout (rainbow, farmed).

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