Cooking trout whole . . .
There is little better than a whole trout doused in olive oil and wrapped in foil with some smashed garlic, lemon juice and herbs before baking – and it’s a great option for the barbecue or grill, too. When cooking a whole trout, it is best to slash the thickest part of the fish a couple of times on each side. This helps the heat to penetrate the flesh which allows for even cooking.
Cooking trout fillets . . .
When cooking a fillet of trout, make sure that it has been pin-boned. An average fillet is about 100–150g which is ideal for pan-frying, poaching, steaming, grilling and cooking en papillote. Steaming trout will bring out the full flavour of the fish and help retain the moisture. Steaming is a particularly East Asian way of cooking trout so try serving with Asian vegetables and spices. Trout is excellent for ceviche – its oily flesh and subtle taste works very well with acidic marinades. However, as with all raw preparations, you should make sure that the fish is very fresh, ideally caught that day.
To check that trout is perfectly cooked, insert a sharp knife or skewer into the thickest part of the flesh – if it’s cooked through, the knife will come out hot to the touch and the flesh should turn opaque and have a slight resistance when prodded.
The flavour of the fish will depend heavily on the breed of trout you are cooking. Sea trout is especially revered for its flavour – butter or browned butter is sometimes all that’s required. Otherwise, the acidity from lemons, lime or tomatoes cut through trout’s oiliness, as do hot horseradish sauce and briny capers. Dill and parsley are great herbs to serve with trout and wild rice, samphire and asparagus are also ideal accompaniments.
Strong, salty meats are well suited to serve with trout – bacon and chorizo in particular – while salty cockles or clams are ideal seafood accompaniments. Trout's subtle nuttiness lends itself well to being paired with almonds – it is famously paired with flaked almonds in Trout amandine and with brown butter and almonds in Trout meunière amandine.
Freshwater trout usually carries an earthier flavour, so is best paired with other similar flavours like potatoes or most kinds of pulses. For counterpoints, the traditional pescatarian partners of lemon, fennel or dill all work brilliantly but if you want to be slightly more interesting, consider using Japanese flavours like shiso, sesame or wasabi.