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Essential tips for cleaning and cooking trout

By Spencer Durrant, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Feb 15th, 2017 @ 11:29am


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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — With ice fishing season in full swing and great conditions on the Weber River, Utah anglers who keep their catch won’t have a problem filling their coolers with a limit of trout.

However, not every family member loves to eat trout as much as anglers. From complaining about the “fishy taste” to the delicate bones, it often seems impossible to please your picky eaters with fresh Utah trout.

With the right cleaning and cooking techniques, though, you’ll be able to whip up a trout-inspired dish the entire family will love. These methods are simple, quick, and best of all, put the fish you caught to great immediate use.

Cleaning

How you clean trout makes the difference between a great fish dinner and something no one in the family wants to eat again. Depending on what you plan to serve with the fish, you’ll want to clean it one of two different ways.

If you plan on serving the fish by itself, the tried-and-true method of gutting the fish, removing the head, tail, and all fins is a great way to go. Spices can be placed in the cavity where the trout’s organs were, filling the meat with a savory flavor.

If you’re an adventurous eater, then cut the tails off your trout and save them for later. We’ll look at a tip for cooking those down below.

If you want to serve the trout with any side dish (potatoes or rice are a time-tested favorite) or simply want to avoid pulling meat off the bones and enjoy a bone-free meal, then you’ll need to fillet the trout.

Filleting fish is an art that takes time to hone, so don’t worry if you make a mess of your first dozen or so fish. The internet is littered with videos that demonstrate the best way to fillet a fish, but they’re all generally the same.

Place your knife immediately behind the pectoral fin at a 45-degree angle toward the spine of the fish. Cut down until you feel the hard bone of the trout, and slowly saw back and forth, pulling the meat right off the bones.

Cooking

From grandpa’s secret recipe to something you came up with when you ran out of food in the Uintas and had to live off fish during a Scout camp, the possibilities of cooking trout are endless.

If you don’t fillet the fish, try the following:

  • Fill the organ cavity with butter, lemon pepper and a very light dusting of garlic powder (garlic powder tones down the fishy taste that turns many people off to trout).
  • Wrap in tin foil and bake in the oven or grill until the meat is cooked through, but still moist. Dry fish doesn’t taste great.
  • Unwrap, serve and enjoy!

If you do fillet the fish, then:

  • Coat each fillet in a light dusting of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sea salt, ground black pepper and chopped onions (dried or fresh).
  • Wrap the fillets in tin foil.
  • Cook until the meat is done but still moist.
  • Unwrap and serve over rice, potatoes or any other side.
Tin foil is used to ensure the fish is cooked evenly throughout, and it’s always important to cook a fish until the meat is firm but still juicy.

Now, here’s a bonus tip — with the fish tails you cut off your trout, do the following:

  • Dip the tails in olive oil
  • Lightly dust them in a mixture of flour, salt and your desired spices
  • Ready a frying pan or deep fryer
  • Fry the tails until they’re golden brown
The tails turn into literal “fish chips” and are tastier than you might think.

Do you have a favorite way to cook or clean trout? Let us know in the comments.


Spencer Durrant

About the Author: Spencer Durrant

Spencer is an outdoors columnist and novelist from Utah. His debut novel, Learning to Fly, was an Amazon bestseller. Connect with him on Twitter @Spencer_Durrant or on Facebook.

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