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Oct 22, 2013 01:19 PM

Odd question about trout

We're from Canada, and on our last two trip to Europe my husband and I noticed something odd. We ordered trout once on each trip, and both times it was a white fish that we received, not the deep orange red we're used to or even a paler shade of orange/pink. Is this a strange thing where maybe the menus were translated wrong, or an otherwise fluke occurrence, or is there just a very different variety of trout there than we're used to? (For reference, one time was in Amsterdam and the other was I believe in Switzerland on Lake Geneva.)

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  1. There are several species of trout. Trout are related to salmon and some species are pink / orange, but the ones I know from Europe and I grew up with are always completely white.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Asomaniac

      p.s., although maybe it is not the species but their diet- this is what wikipedia has to say:

      "Farmed trout and some populations of wild trout, especially anadromous steelhead, have red/orange flesh as a result of high astaxanthin levels in their diets. Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that may be from a natural source or synthetically produced. The resulting pink flesh is sometimes marketed under names such as Ruby Red or Carolina Red."

      1. re: Asomaniac

        Huh...interesting! I have to say, I much prefer the red/orange varieties I've had (as far as I know they're generally natural around here, not farmed), so I'll just probably try things other than trout on future trips. Thanks! :-)

      2. I think when I lived in Canada it was rainbow trout most of the time. But in Belgium it was mostly white trout.

        1. As mentioned, the colour of trout flesh is (like salmon) diet-dependent. If trout is farmed (most of it is) the colour can either be orange-red or white depending upon whether the farmer added colour to their feed - a lot of them do. For reasons I don't understand but can guess are mostly related to cost, feed for farmed trout isn't generally made from the creatures certain wild varieties encounter, that give the reddish colour. So farmers who want that colour add dye.

          Meanwhile, in nature again, it's entirely possible to have white-fleshed trout, or salmon. The wild trout I get here in England is typically orange, but a paler, pinker orange than the almost iridescent colour of some of the farmed varieties. I've seen white, wild salmon and trout in fishmongers too. However in side-by-side tests the differences in flavour were almost imperceptible.

          It should be noted that whether in Europe or North America, unless otherwise labelled, trout is typically the farmed kind. If you want wild trout, you usually have to look for fish specifically labelled as "wild trout".

          3 Replies
          1. re: AlexRast

            I'm curious - where and how are "wild trout" caught in commercial quantities? I have never seen it in the US, other than my own catch, and the flesh colors vary substantially between brookies, rainbow, dolly varden, cutthroat, and lakers, from pale to orange to almost scarlet.

            1. re: Veggo

              I don't know in general. However, in Alberta the northern rivers and lakes are a great supply of wild trout, and we try to mostly go to places with OceanWise labelling, farmers' markets, etc... Still no guarantee, of course, but we do our best.

          2. These are different varieties of trout. In Europe, you mostly get the white trout which is indigenous here and is a strictly freshwater fish. It never goes out to the sea. Its meat is not so fatty and the taste is much milder than the orange meat trout. The latter is indigenous to North America, is easy to farm and should not be encouraged especially in Southern Europe, South America and Australia, where its farming damages the ecosystem.

            Regarding the river white trout - it is not farmed in the proper sense of the word. Its growt can be encouraged so that there are protected breeding grounds and cleaner rivers, but it needs fast water, so it just cannot be bred in large water tanks like salmon. But it is a quite common fish, so there can be enough caught to be served in better restaurants and bought in better supermarkets.