Butterflied, pan fried trout with the youngest, freshest peas. What could be more springtime than that? Here’s how to make crispy fried trout with either fillets or a butterflied fish.
Pan fried trout, either in fillets or butterflied, are a rite of spring for me. Seared crispy skin, flaky fish, peas, a little butter, parsley and lemon juice at the end. Classic and lovely.
The trick here is to fry the skin side of fillets or a butterflied fish in the butter, basting the meat side with the hot butter to set it before flipping it. The result is a pan fried trout that is crispy but not overcooked.
Start with the trout. You obviously want trout that will fit in your pan. The farmed rainbow trout you buy in the supermarket are sold that size for that reason, and anglers will want to remember, more or less, what size your frying pan is. But if you catch bigger trout you can cut the fillets down to size.
If you catch really big trout, like more than a few pounds, you will want to use the method in my recipe for salmon with cucumber sauce.
Making Pan Fried Trout
Salt the fillets on both sides about 30 minutes to an hour before you start cooking. I keep the fish in the fridge for this. When you are ready to make your pan fried trout, take out the fillets and pat them dry.
I dredge the trout in flour, but you don’t have to. I like using the flour because it further dries the surface and makes for a crispier pan fried trout. Rice flour is a great alternative for people who are eating gluten free.
The best fat or oil for fried trout, in my opinion, is clarified butter, sold as ghee in the supermarket; ghee is the Indian name for clarified butter. I also like to add a knob of regular butter at the end for flavor. You can’t use regular butter for the main frying because it will burn. Vegetable oil is fine, too.
My trick for pan fried trout is to set the fish down in the hot clarified butter, skin side down, and press it down with a spatula or a bacon press for about 30 seconds — this lets the skin relax so the fish lays flat in the pan.
You then spoon hot butter over the top of the trout to set the flour, then flip and fry that side until it’s golden brown.
To finish, add some good, sweet butter, fresh parsley and nice peas. Squeeze lemon juice over everything right when you serve.
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Pan Fried Trout with Peas
- 4 frying pan sized trout butterflied, fillets or whole
- About 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups peas, fresh or thawed
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Grated zest and juice of a lemon
- 3 tablespoons minced parsley
- Black pepper to taste
- Rinse the trout in cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Salt it lightly on both sides, then dredge it in flour.
- Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. If you think you can get all the trout into the pan at once, you are good to go. If not, get individual plates ready and set your oven to 200°F.
- When the butter is hot, lay the trout skin side down in the hot butter. Fry for 2 minutes, then use a large spoon to baste the meat side of the trout with butter. Keep basting with the spoon for a minute or two, depending on how thick the trout is. In the trout above I only basted it for about 90 seconds. When the skin side of the trout is golden brown, use a spatula (or two) to gently remove the trout and flip it skin side up onto a plate. If you need to fry more trout, put the plate in the oven.
- When all the trout have been cooked, add the remaining ingredients to the pan and turn the heat to high. Boil furiously until the sauce reduces by half, then pour it over the trout. Serve at once with bread, rice or potatoes.