I recently went to an amazing state park that has natural cold water springs that allow trout to survive FAR outside their usual range. The state has trout hatcheries there and regularly stock the rivers, but their is an established “wild” population as well. I come from the land of 10,000 Blue Gill, so to see trout as common as that was mind blowing.
We caught a few dozen trout, but we released most of them because they were very small. I also caught a huge (for the species) darter fish.
Those are some bold little fish, let me tell you. The limit was 4 trout per person, per day, so we were pretty careful with what we harvested. The park had wonderful cleaning stations and a freezer, so we came home with beautiful trout that had rather thawed by the time we arrived home.
My mom used to cook a lot of trout, and I did a lot of research as to cooking suggestions on the way home. I doing my absolute best to not fry anything anymore, and honestly, that seemed to be a perfectly good way to ruin perfectly good fresh trout. After chatting with my mother and poking around the good ‘ol interwebs, I decided that I was going to do a very minimal processing of the trout. I didn’t want to scale, or skin these trout, because they can dry out, and the skin imparts a wonderful flavor.
We stopped at the store on the way home and bought a lemon, parsley, and dill. I chopped the herbs finely, and added some finely chopped garlic. I sliced the lemons paper thin and then I stuffed the trout with them. I put them on an olive oil covered aluminum foil, spooned the rest of the herbs over the trout and the rest of the lemons. I gave it a nice sprinkling of sea salt and folded the foil up into a packet and popped it into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.
They were fully cooked, tender, and juicy in that time. The trade off for treating them so minimally upfront is that they are much more difficult to eat than if you were to fillet them, and remove the bones, but the flavor really makes it worth it for me. For Pete’s sake, just don’t fry them! Enough with the frying of food!
The skins pealed right off, and there were a few bones to pull, however, the acid from the lemon and the freshness of the herbs really brought out a rich and bold flavor from the trout that frying, or grilling won’t get you. Consider trying it if you ever find yourself with a mess of fresh caught trout!