I once was the proud owner of a fly reel.
Just the reel mind you. I was 10 years old, and I never did get a fishing rod for that reel. The fishing rod I did have came with its own reel and was the type with which you used a little bobbing float and a hook to attach something wriggly.
Hapless in the fishing department, I eventually gifted my gear to my younger brother and stuck to collecting crawdads, tadpoles, and minnows.
Over the years my brother regularly brought home trout (usually steelhead), salmon, and assorted other fish he caught in the American River, a short walk from our house in Sacramento.
It was only years later, on a trip to western Montana, that I learned that a fly reel is what is used in fly fishing, which is how one fishes for trout.
So now, every time I pass by the fish counter at the market and see beautiful fresh trout staring back at me, I think of fly fishermen standing in their waders in the shallows of either the Madison or American rivers, casting for a bite.
The Best Way to Cook Trout
Trout is, one of the most delicious fish you can eat, and not only is it relatively inexpensive (for fish), it's really easy to cook. It's usually sold deboned and with head and tail.
Trout does have rather delicate skin.
So rather than grilling it directly on the grill grates, the best way to ensure that the fish holds together and results in a beautiful presentation is to create an aluminum "boat" to hold the fish and place that boat on the grill. Keep the boat open and cover the grill so that the trout absorbs some of the smokiness from the grill.
The Best Trout for This Recipe
Any trout works for this recipe, but we recommend buying these types if they're available to you.
- Rainbow trout
- Arctic char, also known as Alpine trout
- Brook trout
Regardless of the variety, look for the freshest trout you can purchase. The fish should have bright, bulging eyes and red or pink gills. If the fish has sunken eyes or the gills have turned gray, the fish is older. The flesh should be moist, not dry. And, the sniff test is very important. If the trout has a strong, fishy smell, pass it by.
It's best to cook fresh fish the day you purchase it, but if you must store it in the refrigerator, it can keep for up to 2 days if you store it properly. Remove the fish from its packaging, wash it, and pat it dry with paper towels. Put ice in a container with a tight fitting lid that's large enough to fit the entire fish. Place the fish on top of the ice, and put the lid on. Place in the refrigerator. When ice begins to melt, change it out.
Best Way to Cook Trout
Cooking trout in an aluminum foil "boat" keeps the whole fish together while grilling. Using two or three layers of heavy duty aluminum foil that are a few inches longer on each side than the fish. Make a 1-inch rim around the edges of the foil, creating a boat. Coat the bottom of the "boat" with olive oil so the fish won't stick.
To bake the fish in the oven instead of on the grill, prepare the trout as instructed in Step 3 and place it on the boat. Instead of making a foil boat, make a foil packet for the fish, using two large sheets of foil that you will wrap loosely around the fish, crimping it at the top so it seals around the fish.
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how large the fish is. When done the trout will be opaque and flake easily with a fork.
5 Sides to Serve with Grilled Trout
- Grilled Asparagus
- Potato Salad with Apples and Bacon
- Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Dill
- Caesar Salad
- Rice Pilaf With Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
Grilled Trout With Dill and Lemon
Assume one trout per person.
These directions are for grilling trout. If you don't have a grill, you can easily prepare the fish in an aluminum boat in the same way and bake in the oven at 350°F until done.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 trout, boned and cleaned (also called "butterflied"), head and tail still on, or headless if you want
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 paper-thin slices fresh lemon, seeded
- Several sprigs dill, or basil, tarragon, parsley, or other tender fresh herbs
- 1 teaspoon butter, cut into small cubes
Prepare the grill:
Prepare your grill for direct high heat, with one part of the grill cool.
Make an aluminum "boat":
While the grill is heating, make a "boat" with heavy duty aluminum foil. Double or triple layer the foil and make a 1-inch rim around the edges.
Coat the bottom of the "boat" generously with olive oil so that the trout does not stick while it is cooking.
Prep the trout:
Rinse the trout with water and pat them dry. Open up the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add lemon slices to the inside of the fish in a single layer. Top with sprigs of dill and dots of butter. Close the fish over the stuffing. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil. Place fish in the aluminum foil boat(s).
Grill the trout:
Place fish boats on the hot side of the grill. Cover and let cook for 3 minutes. The oil and the juice from the fish will get bubbly.
Move to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for 3-5 more minutes, until the fish are just cooked through. You can peek inside the fish for doneness. Once opaque, the fish should be removed from the grill.