How I Cook Fresh Rainbow Trout Filets On Top of the Stove
Sunday night we were having company so my wife and I picked up some fresh trout at the farmer’s market in the morning after taking our dog Bailey for a hike.
I have gotten to know one of the fishmongers at the market and Andy always takes great care of me by letting me know what’s fresh and a good buy. That day he recommended the rainbow trout and picked out some beautiful fillets for us.
Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Tarragon
There are lots of ways to cook fresh fish filets and many ways to season them to alter their flavor. The way I’m describing here is very basic and very easy to do at home especially if you are not that comfortable with pan frying fish.
I have a few tips that I hope are helpful and encourage you to give this method a try.
For this dish, I used only salt, pepper and some finely minced tarragon. When my youngest daughter grabbed the bunch of fresh tarragon from the refrigerator, I asked her to pull off a leave, crumble it up in her fingers, give it a smell and then take a taste.
She liked the smell but wasn’t thrilled with the taste. Said it tasted like licorice – which it does. When cooked, the flavor mellows and is great with most seafood, chicken and vegetables and is an important ingredient when making Bearnaise sauce.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes prior to cooking. It is much easier and you’ll get better results if the trout is not cooked directly from the fridge.
Depending on the size and thickness of the rainbow trout, most recipes will tell you to cook approximately 3 minutes per side. Good advice but if you look at a filet of Rainbow trout, you’ll notice one end is much thicker than the other.
So I like to make sure I place the thicker ends on the same side of the pan and then place the pan over the heat so the thicker section is directly over the heat. This way the pan gets hotter right under the thickest part of the fish.
Start with the skin side down and be sure the pan and oil are nice and hot before adding the trout so the skin crisps up nicely.
Rather than timing the fish 3 minutes per side, I like to watch the fish as it’s cooking. You can see it change color on the sides as it is cooking. When it looks like it is between half way and three quarters cooked, flip it over and cook for an additional couple of minutes until done.
It takes a little practice to get the timing right so start off with 3 minutes per side and watch it cook. When you get more comfortable with watching and getting a feel for when it is perfectly cooked, try that method.
Don’t crowd the pan!
I pan fried 6 trout fillets, 2 at a time. When I finished cooking the first 2 fillets, I removed them to a plate and loosely covered with tin foil and let the pan get hot again for a minute before adding the next 2 pieces of trout.
Don’t use dried tarragon. Find some fresh tarragon in your market for this recipe.
Read my post on How to Prevent Fish From Sticking to the Pan. I think you’ll enjoy it.
We served the Rainbow trout with fresh local seasonal corn and a delicious Arugula Salad with Peaches. I’ll work on posting the recipe for the arugula salad soon.
How To Cook Rainbow Trout Filets
- Prep the ingredients by washing and drying the fresh tarragon leaves and removing the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Finely mince the fresh tarragon.
- Rinse and dry the rainbow trout.
- Heat up a large frying pan over medium heat, one that will hold at least 2 of the trout fillets. How hot? This is important because you must be careful when adding oil or any fat to a heated pan.
- While the pan is heating, season the skin side of the trout with salt and pepper.
- When the pan is hot enough, add a tablespoon or two of oil to the pan and move the pan around so the oil coats the bottom. When the oil gets hot but not smoking, add the trout fillets skin side down.
- While the trout is cooking, season the non-skin side with salt, pepper and some of the tarragon. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, cook for approximately 3 - 4 minutes until the skin is crispy.
- Flip the trout fillets over and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until the fish is perfectly cooked through. Transfer the cooked trout to a plate, loosely cover with foil to keep warm while you cook the remaining fillets.I like to bring the pan back to the stove, add a little oil if needed and let the pan and oil get hot again before adding the next pair of trout fillets. If the pan isn't hot, the skin will not crisp up as nicely as the first batch.
- When all the rainbow trout fillets are pan fried, plate with your side dishes and serve.