Tasty Trout

One of the biggest attractions of the Lake Tahoe area is the fishing. With so many lakes, rivers and streams around, it makes sense that fishing is fantastic. With a hike into the back country, you may end up catching a brook trout or a golden trout. Right at lake level, be it in Lake Tahoe, the Truckee river or in one of the many other nearby lakes or reservoirs, you are apt to catch a rainbow, brown or cutthroat trout or a kokanee salmon. There is also the mackinaw trout.

READ MORE: Grilled, baked, blackened, poached & seafood-stuffed salmon

The biggest of all the trout, the mackinaw is usually caught in deep water. It is wise to hire a guide who has all the downriggers and knows where to find them. In some of the area reservoirs, particularly in Stampede, you can often catch them with regular equipment closer to the surface at certain times of the year.

My biggest mackinaw to date is a 15-pounder caught on a crank, bait fishing in my float tube on 6-pound test line.

Brown trout is my favorite. It has pink flesh, like a salmon. I will filet it, bone it, skin it and cook it like a salmon.

Once you have caught your dinner, it’s good to know that there are many ways of preparing it. Brown trout is my favorite. It has pink flesh, like a salmon. I will filet it, bone it, skin it and cook it like a salmon. I prefer a beurre blanc or a light herb butter and lemon as a topper.

READ MORE: Snail or Herb Butters

If the kokanee is big enough, I will do the same to it, otherwise I treat it like a regular trout. For a rainbow or any of the other trout, except the mackinaw, my favorite is the traditional almandine.

READ MORE: Beurre Blanc Sauce

Mackinaw is much fishier and oilier than the others and I prefer a little stronger sauce for it. Grilled with a barbecue sauce is one great way of cooking it, or try a stronger herb butter such as a snail butter.

There are of course many other great ways to prepare trout. These are just a few of the more basic recipes. Try one of these simple recipes the next time you catch a trout and enjoy.

Brown Trout for two
2 filets, boned & skinned
1 shallot, fine diced
4 oz. white wine
4 T butter
1 lemon
Salt & pepper

Get your sauté pan hot. Put ½ T butter in the pan and your filet with what was the skin side up. Sear this quickly. Flip the filet over after about 1 minute or so. Place ½ T butter on the filet and pour 1 oz. of wine into the pan. Place the pan in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven to finish.

The time will vary according to how thick your filet is but it shouldn’t take too long. Push on it gently. It will tend to fall apart easily once done. Take the fish out of the oven and place it on a plate.

Place the shallots and wine in the pan on the stovetop. Reduce until the wine is a paste and remove the pan from the stove. Toss in the rest of the butter and stir it in while the butter slowly melts. The sauce will break if it gets too hot and that is why I turn the heat off. Give it a small squeeze of lemon and your beurre blanc is ready to be placed on top of the fish.

Trout Almandine for one
Flour
1 lemon
3 T butter
1/8 C sliced almonds
Salt & pepper

Roll the trout in flour to coat the skin and shake off any extra flour. This will make for a delicious and crispy skin. Season the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper. Spread ½ T of butter inside and give it a squirt of lemon. Get the pan hot on the stovetop and put in ½ T butter and the trout.

Sear that side of the fish until golden brown on medium-high heat, then flip it over and place it in a 350-degree F oven. The fish is done when the meat falls apart off the bones.

Place the fish on a plate and put the remaining butter and almonds in the pan on medium-high to high heat. Toss a few times and watch out not to burn the almonds. When the butter starts to turn brown and froth, squeeze a little lemon into it and it is ready for the fish.

Barbecued Mackinaw
For the mackinaw, simply grill as you would a salmon filet and when you flip it, give it a good coat of barbecue sauce.

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.