HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Rainbow trout

Does it have a similar taste to salmon ? I don't as a rule like non-salt water fish because I find them sweet and bland but since it looks so much like salmon... All opinions welcome!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It matters what theye've been eating and what kind of water they have been living in (wild ones). cold clear water and lots of live things to eat they are better tasting. Big lake trout are mushy and usually taste like the cross between moss and mud. Farm raised trout like you get in restaruants are fair.

    1 Reply
    1. It's perhaps milder than most salmon. Some or most of the farm-raised rainbow trout are fed a diet of liver pellets, which imparts a flavor different from wild rainbows, which one must catch oneself. Wild have firmer flesh, also; they worked for a living.
      Pan fry slowly in butter, skin on, both sides and a bit on the back. The skin, which will remove easily, is edible on small ones, but can approach scaly on larger ones. With care, the skeleton can be removed in a single piece, save for a few small bones behind the gills. Tasty with any meal of the day.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Can't you scale them? I do it with saltwater speckled trout, using a filet knife, going against the grain. That crispy skin is really good. I fry my specks in corn meal cut with a little flour, soaked in milk and egg wash first, it's outstanding, I don't know if works with rainbows, never had one. That frying in butter sounds really good, I'll give it a try.

        1. re: James Cristinian

          If the trout's small enough the scales are quite fine to eat, similar to arctic char.

          1. re: Blueicus

            Understood, but can't you just scale the larger ones?

          2. re: James Cristinian

            The scales come off even the largest Trout with very little effort. A straight dull knife is all it takes.

            The first shot below of a 5-1/2 lb Steelhead shows how readily the scales come off.

            The second is the same fish dressed out.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              Speckled trout, aka weakfish and a number of other names, are totally unrelated to salmonids (i.e., trout and salmon).

              1. re: FlyFish

                I know that, I was just using the scaling technique as an example. I could of used a freshwater fish like a laregmouth bass, yes I'll eat a largemouth( gasp, to all you catch and releasers), but since I catch far more specks, thats what I used.

              2. re: James Cristinian

                That preparation would totally work with a rainbow trout, wild or farmed. :-) I like to fry'em in bacon grease or grapeseed oil, something with a nice high smoke point.

            2. I find rainbow trout quite different from salmon. Steel head trout are very similar to salmon.

              1. Wild Rainbow are very similar to wild freshwater Salmon, only with less of that "Salmon tang" and the slightest bit sweeter. I find the best eating size to be about 3 to 4 lbs. Great Lakes Rainbow are decidedly different in taste and colour from river fish. We prepare them the same as we do Salmon.

                1. Rainbow trout were for years thought to be part of the genus Salmo, which includes the brown trout, cutthroat, and Atlantic salmon. They have since been placed in the genus Oncorhyncus, which includes the five species of Pacific salmon (chinook, coho, chum, pink, sockeye - - these are known in Alaska, respectively, as king, silver, dog, humpie, and red). So, it's more correct to think of rainbow trout as a salmon that's become adapted to spending most of its time in freshwater. Steelhead are rainbow trout that have run downstream, gone out to sea for a few years, and returned - which is, of course, exactly what the other salmon species do. (And if anyone really cares, brook trout and lake trout are not trout or salmon but are species of char, genus Salvelinus.)

                  All of that said, the differences in flavor between species is primarily a result of the amount of fat in the flesh, which is in part genetic (some species are inherently fattier), in part local (some rivers have fattier fish than others), and in part a product of what the fish has been eating. The intensity of the pink coloration in the flesh tends to be a result of feeding on small crustaceans, and these are much more plentiful in the ocean. In general, fish that are returning from their time at sea are going to be fattier and more red in color, and more flavorful than fish that have spent their lives, or at least some time, in freshwater.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FlyFish

                    What he said.

                    Many lakes around here (NorCal) have populations of trout and of landlocked salmon. When caught in the same lake at the same time of year, they taste more alike than different because they are genetically similar, have similar food supplies, are exposed to similar environmental conditions, and have to exert similar amounts of energy to find food and avoid predators.

                    If you like wild salmon, you'll probably enjoy wild rainbow trout. Whether you'll like the farmed stuff in the fish case at the grocery store is more of an open question, though.

                  2. Personally, I think rainbow trout are the best tasting freshwater fish in th US. A little bacon fat, lemon and a cast iron skillet will turn that fish into something incredible.

                    But it is a matter of freshness. They go down hill really fast in the fridge/freezer. We used to catch them on the White River in Arkansas,,,on canned corn cernals as bait.

                    My humble opinion...any freshwater fish like that needs to be cooked within two days,

                    And no...it's not anything like salmon,,,Its a very much more a white flesh...and very much too old in any market you may find it.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: garfish

                      I know we could go on with this for days but walleye has got to be the best freshwater fish there is. I myself would have argued that until I finally had one.

                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                          okay, you got me. walleye, is great...but then again lake perch is pretty good too.

                          Hat tip Margshep.

                          I'm remembering the lake perch my dad and I iced fished for. A little worchestershire, a touch of lemon, and just a bit under the broiler...or the campfire.
                          Thanks for reviving that memory. It's why I keep a a salt and pepper shaker and a bottle of worchestershire in my glovebox to this day. Lemons?...not so easy long term.

                        2. re: garfish

                          We could argue for days about which fish tastes best, but as an avid fisherwoman myself and having eaten tons of the stuff, there is only one that is "the best"..... Perch.

                          1. re: margshep

                            Why tease me w/ talk about perch when I am out in LA and will not see or eat perch until I can get to Dad's place, at the end of June! My craving has begun.

                            In response to topic I think the key to rainbow trout or perch or walleye is freshness, eat the day you catch and keep away form adding heavy flavors.

                            1. re: margshep

                              "It's perhaps milder than most salmon. Some or most of the farm-raised rainbow trout are fed a diet of liver pellets, which imparts a flavor different from wild rainbows, which one must catch oneself."

                              Having raised and fed rainbow trout I can assure you they are not fed liver pellets. Liver would be prohibitively expensive as a protein source for the enormous volume of food that commercial aquaculture utilize. Ground fish meal from marine school fish such as menhadden, anchovies etc and some animal slaughter byproducts are used. The carotenoids(red pigments) that shrimp and some krill have in them, color the salmon flesh pink or red (as well as flamingos). Salmon without recourse to these food sources will have pale flesh as will rainbow trout. I guess wild freshwater rainbows have insects or crustaceans in their diet that contain carotenoid compounds to make them pink/red fleshed. They do taste different from aquacultured rainbows however, the aquacultured fish are very tasty. Unfortunately, there is an insufficient number of wild trout to supply the market demand for fish(that would be true of wild salmon, too).

                              1. re: margshep

                                I read your bio and it says you're from northern Ontario. Is this perch a lake perch similiar to the Great Lakes one? I live in Texas, and and least in my part, a perch was a generic term for bream, blue gills, and even crappie which my uncles called white perch. I spent a little time in Chicago and I know the locals are crazy for perch, but, unfortunately I did not sample. Down here, I cut the head off, scale and gut, and fry in corn meal. Delicious. What is your perch, and how do you prepare it?

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Unfortunately in my neck of the woods (Georgian Bay) there are no perch. I have to go to Lake Erie for them. Around here we have Chinooks and Rainbows (Steelheads) both of which are great. When I cook perch I usually just pan fry in butter, but sometimes flour them and sort of deep fry. We also have crappie and bluegills here too. Different fish. Surprisingly, a very tasty fish that is often overlooked as a junk fish are rock bass. Lotsa bones, but tasty.

                            2. Small, fresh caught rainbows and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It doesn't get much better than that.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Gotta watch out for the pot of gold, though. Damn near chipped a tooth once.

                                I am not as well-versed in the subtleties and particulars as some of the above posters, but as someone who loves salmon, I can't imagine a salmon-lover not at least liking rainbow trout. Personally, I like a big hunk of it grilled with a bit of lemon.

                              2. IMO, rainbow trout & salmon are absolutely nothing alike, but I don't have the vocabulary to describe the difference. I think salmon are extremely distinct from all other fish, though.

                                1. IMHO,stream caught brook trout are the BEST! Milder than the others mentioned here. Panfried with eggs..................delish!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Lindseyup67

                                    Stream caught brookies, yes! Gutted, splayed on a forked stick and roasted over an open fire, eaten with your fingers (do not eat fingers.). Finger lickin' good.

                                    Rainbow much more mild, a subtle sweetness, salmon, richer more oil.