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 filets at the farmer's market in the morning after taking our dog Bailey for a hike.
I 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.
A Little Bit About Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout is a species of freshwater fish that is native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America but has been widely introduced for sport fishing and aquaculture. They are prized for their bright, distinctive coloration, as well as their fighting spirit when caught.
How Big Do They Get?
The size and weight of rainbow trout can vary greatly depending on various factors such as age, habitat, and genetics. In the wild, rainbow trout typically grow to lengths of 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) and weigh between 1-4 pounds (0.5-2 kg). However, larger specimens can be caught, especially in certain habitats.
In aquaculture, rainbow trout are often selectively bred to reach larger sizes, with some farmed fish reaching weights of up to 13 pounds (6 kg) or more. The size and weight of rainbow trout can also be influenced by the availability of food and the length of the growing season in their habitat.
Is It A Healthy Fish?
Yes, rainbow trout is considered a healthy fish to eat. It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins such as B12 and D.
It also contains minerals like phosphorus, selenium, and potassium. However, as with any food, it is important to consider factors such as preparation method and portion size when evaluating its overall nutritional impact on a diet.
Ways to Cook Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout can be cooked in a variety of ways, including:
- Grilled: Season with salt, pepper, and lemon, wrap in foil, and grill over high heat for 8-10 minutes on each side.
- Pan-Fried: Dredge the trout in seasoned flour and fry in a hot, oiled pan for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.
- Poached: Place trout in a pot of simmering liquid (such as white wine, water, or court bouillon) and cook until the fish is just cooked through about 8-10 minutes.
- Baked: Season the trout, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 200°C (400°F) for 10-12 minutes.
- Broiled: Season the trout, place under the broiler and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side until the skin is crispy and the flesh is opaque.
- Smoked: Smoke the trout over low heat for 30-45 minutes, depending on the desired level of smokiness.
These are some of the most common cooking methods for rainbow trout, but the fish can also be used in a variety of recipes including soups, stews, and curries.
What Temperature Should You Cook It To?
Rainbow trout should be cooked to an internal temperature of 63°C (145°F). This temperature is high enough to ensure that any harmful bacteria in the fish have been destroyed, but not so high that the meat becomes dry and tough.
To check the internal temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fish, away from bones and cartilage. When cooking rainbow trout, it is important to avoid overcooking as this can lead to dry, tough meat.
Best Places to Buy Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout can be purchased from a variety of sources, including:
- Grocery stores: Rainbow trout are often sold fresh or frozen in the seafood section of large grocery stores.
- Fish markets: Independent fish markets specialize in selling a variety of fresh and saltwater fish, including rainbow trout.
- Online retailers: Online retailers specializing in seafood offer rainbow trout for delivery to your door.
- Aquaculture farms: Some fish farms raise rainbow trout and sell it directly to consumers.
The availability of rainbow trout may vary depending on where you live and the time of year, so it may be a good idea to call ahead to ensure the store or market has it in stock.
6 Interesting Facts
- They are named for their distinctive coloration, which can range from deep green to bright pink, with a band of iridescent red, blue, and purple along their sides.
- They are native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. Still, they have been introduced to many other parts of the world for sport fishing and aquaculture.
- They are highly adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and conditions, which has made them one of the most widely introduced species of fish in the world.
- They are opportunistic feeders, feeding on a variety of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small fish.
- They are an important species for sport fishing, with many anglers targeting them for their fighting spirit and delicious flavor.
- They are also a popular species for aquaculture, with farms around the world producing millions of pounds of rainbow trout for food each year. In addition to being a valuable source of food, rainbow trout aquaculture also provides important habitats for other aquatic species and can help to restore degraded watersheds.
Some Popular Recipes Featuring Rainbow Trout
- Rainbow Trout Almondine: A classic dish where rainbow trout fillets are sautéed in butter and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of toasted almonds.
- Rainbow Trout with Herbs: A simple but flavorful dish that features rainbow trout fillets baked with a mixture of herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, basil, and lemon slices.
- Smoked Rainbow Trout Pâté: A rich and creamy spread made from smoked rainbow trout, cream cheese, and a variety of seasonings.
- Rainbow Trout Cakes: A hearty and flavorful dish made from cooked rainbow trout that has been mashed with potatoes and spices, then formed into cakes and pan-fried.
- Rainbow Trout Chowder: A creamy and satisfying soup made from cooked rainbow trout, potatoes, onions, and a variety of seasonings, typically served with crusty bread.
These are just a few examples of the many delicious recipes that feature rainbow trout as an ingredient. The mild, delicate flavor and tender texture of rainbow trout make it a versatile and popular choice for many types of cuisine.
Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Tarragon
As mentioned above, 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 before cooking. It is much easier, and you'll get better results if the trout are not cooked directly from the fridge.
- Depending on the size and thickness of the rainbow trout, most recipes will tell you to cook for 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 ensure 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 it as it cooks. You can see it change color on the sides as it is cooking. When it looks like it is between halfway 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 with 3 minutes per side and watch it cook. Try that method when you get more comfortable with watching and getting a feel for when it is perfectly cooked.
- 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, loosely covered them 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.
Some of My Favorite Seafood Recipes
- Salmon Curry with Coconut Miso Recipe
- Grilled Salmon Delight: Perfectly Cooked Catch of the Day
- Everything You Need to Know About Ceviche
- Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Fennel Recipe
- Classic Tuna Casserole with Dill Recipe
- Shrimp Sauce Recipe
- Shrimp and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops Over Coconut Curry Lentils Recipe