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Recipe needed for whole Trout

A 2 to 2-1/2 lb Rainbow is a 10/10 catch. The flesh is perfect because there are no spawning issues, the texture is perfect, and there is no need to freeze unused parts of the fish - it's a prefect meal for the two of us. In the past I've either filletted these fish or gutted and headed them. I would like to try something with the whole beast.

Any direction on how to safely remove the gills for cooking? Should I slit the back for easy serving? Should I scrape off the scales? I can probably resolve these issues myself but don't wish to wantonly waste fish doing it.

Finally, recipe suggestions - stove-top, oven, or grill. The BBQ is covered in snow right now and our weather will suck until mid-April. Reasonable, but not exotic, ingredients are available.

This would b a fresh-water Steelhead from Lake Huron and not from the West Coast .

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  1. I don't have a recipe per se, just a technique. My wife dredges the trout in flour and dusts it off and cooks it in an electric frypan set at 375 degrees for the amount of time specified on our Fish Meter (It's a little ruler with a bar that goes up and down and you put it next to the fish and move the horizontal bar down to rest on the fish and it reads in minutes of TOTAL time) or 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Cooks in peanut oil and then if we want any kind of sauce (almondine or such) it's made in another pan, like a saucier.
    Mostly, though, a squirt of fresh lemon is enough.
    Look for the fish meter thouh, it's great and cheap - usually hanging on a wall somewhere in a cookware store.

    1. Hi DockPotato,

      I don't have any advice on the gills but you should scale the fish for sure! If you like SE Asian flavors or just want to try something different, here's a simple recipe I got from a Thai friend.

      Steamed fish with lemongrass in claypot (you can steam it in a skillet too)

      1 1-1/2 to 2 pound whole trout, head and tail intact, scaled, gutted and cleaned
      4 stalks lemongrass
      1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
      1/2 cup water or more as needed

      Optional: Lay fish flat on a cutting board. At thickest part of the body, make two diagonal bone-deep cuts perpendicular to backbone, about two inches apart. Turn fish over, and repeat.

      Remove about 1-1/2 inches from the hard root end of the lemongrass and the leaf end leaving about 6 inches of the center. Smash lemongrass with a meat pounder or a large knife to release the essential oils.

      Fold one stalk into half and rub it all over the fish, inside and out. Discard stalk. Sprinkle salt and rub into the fish, inside and out.

      Tear each of the 3 remaining lemongrass stalks into 4 strips. Lay lemongrass in a grid pattern at the bottom of the claypot.

      Place fish on top. Tuck in the tail if it doesn’t fit.

      Add enough water to reach bottom layer of lemon grass without touching the fish.

      Cover with lid and bring water to a boil over medium heat.

      Once steam appears from the hole in the lid, about 5 minutes, check water level and add more water if necessary. Steam for another 8 to 10 minutes, checking on the water level at least once. At the thickest part of the fish, lift the flesh with a fork and if it separates easily from the bone, it’s done.

      Serve in claypot or carefully remove the fish with two spatulas onto a plate. Spoon liquid from plate over fish before serving.

      If you'd like to read the whole deal and see pictures, visit: http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.w...

      CoastalLiving.com also has some great whole fish recipes: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

      1. The gills can come out with the guts. Take a sharp knife and open the belly from the anal vent to the lower jaw. Dump the guts, clean the bloodline, and pull out the gills, leaving the gill plates and the head intact. You may need to use your knife to free the gills at top and bottom, but they usually come out with a tug.

        I wouldn't slit the back until it's time to serve; having the skin intact makes the fish less likely to break during handling. I usually trim the fins down but don't remove them entirely; that way you can pull them out along with their roots once the fish is cooked. Scaling is unnecessary unless you're planning to eat the skin, but if the scales are making a mess, go ahead and get rid of them.

        For recipes, the fish is so delicate that keeping it simple might be the way to go. There are a million options: try putting a few lemon slices in the cavity and poaching in white wine and butter. Or stuffing with spinach (plain or in a bechamel sauce), rolling in flour, and broiling. Or cooking en papillote with mirepoix in parchment paper. But my absolute favorite way to eat trout is rolled in cornmeal and fried in bacon fat (preferably over a campfire).

        Be adventurous. No matter what you do, you can't go wrong unless you overcook the fish.

        1. I have done it whole with just a few lemon slices and green onion in the cavity and baked in a salt crust. As others have noted about similar simple treatments, this results in a moist fish that still has its "essence".

          1 Reply
          1. re: torty

            or butter a large piece of foil, lay the fish down, stuff the cavity with lemon, onion and fennel and some herbs, fold the foil up leaving lots of air to circulate and bake for about 20 mins.

          2. Lay one or two sage leaves on each side of the fish. Wrap with some slightly rendered bacon (pop in the microwave for a minute or two). Season lightly with salt and pepper. Start in a cast-iron skillet on the stove to crisp the bacon, then finish on high heat in the oven.

            1. I've caught hundreds of 'bows, and never had scale one...and I eat 'em skin and all. In fact, I've never seen a scale on a rainbow. To prepare Japanese-style (yakizakana), gut per alanbarnes instructions, wash and pat dry, and salt the outside heavily with a coarse salt (kosher works fine). Allow to rest for 30 minutes, rub the salt in, and salt again. Broil over medium-high heat (pan, oven, grill, grill pan are all ok) for 3-4 minutes per side. Prepare a dipping sauce made with equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce. Serve with fresh, hot white rice and steamed veggies.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ricepad

                Wow-All of these sound wonderful! I usually butterfy it open- season with S&P or a seasoned salt, lemon, butter, slivered almond and broil only about 7 or so minutes. Umm. I would like to try that Thai way.

              2. I will try the Thai and Japanese versions - as everyone agrees this fish needs very little help. Then I'll make my way down the list, thanking you all. Thanks alanbarnes on the gills advice - I can do that.

                I should have clarified, ricepad, that our Bows are Lake Huron Steelhead so they do have scales when they begin their run - 100 of them on the lateral line. They are very fine, particularly on small ones. The photo shows a Bow recently upriver just beginning to lose its scales.

                 
                3 Replies
                1. re: DockPotato

                  I guess I never considered those to be scales, although they really are. I have never scaled a rainbow trout, nor found a need to. Most of the time, I'm dealing with pan-sized fish (say, 8-10 inches long), but even the biggest ones I've had - in the 22-25 inch range - didn't need scaling.

                  Anyway, happy eating!

                  1. re: ricepad

                    I've never scaled them either, nor Salmon. I take it you don't eat the skin, or does it really crisp up?

                    I try to handle and wash the outer fish as little as possible because the outside layer and coating adds flavour. I'll leave them on with your version, probably with the rest too - the scales don't seem to be bothersome in chomping.

                    1. re: DockPotato

                      I scale salmon, and I eat just about any fish skin, except for catfish...too rubbery.

                2. I don't have much direction to provide for cleaning, but I think that that trout would lend itself nicely to the a similar preparation that I use for bluefish roasted on thinly sliced potatoes, courtesy of Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". A basic paraphrase is provided here:

                  http://beyondsalmon.blogspot.com/2005...

                  It should work just fine with the whole fish vs. fillets- whole just might need to cook longer, and I'd probably throw a few lemon slices, rosemary springs and garlic slices into the belly.

                  Enjoy your fish!

                  1. This is a similar recipe to one I use for Corsican Stuffed Fish

                    http://fooddownunder.com/cgi-bin/reci...