When I was younger, I used to occasionally go fishing, hitting up the local lakes around the Bay Area. You could almost always be certain to catch a rainbow trout in the stocked lakes, which was a real joy to a novice (or kids). Once caught, I’d always manage to coerce a friend to gut the fish and clean it for me. But then I’d grill it up for everyone, and we’d have a delicious feast.
It’s been years since I’ve grilled rainbow trout, but it’s still a celebration-worthy meal to me. Whether you’ve gone out and caught your own fish, or gone down to your local fishmonger or market and purchased a gutted and scaled one, it doesn’t really matter. Just be sure to choose a fresh fish from a reputable place.
You can choose to leave the head on or remove it, depending on your level of squeamishness. I prefer to leave the head on. Plus, then you get fish cheeks. The beauty of this recipe is that it couldn’t be simpler: you just season then stuff the cavity with slices of lemon and herb sprigs, brush it with olive oil, and throw it on the grill. You can tie it with kitchen string if you like, to hold everything inside, but I usually can’t be bothered (just be extra careful when turning the fish.)
Make sure to cook over a medium-hot fire until the skin gets nicely charred, then move it away from the heat if it’s cooking too quickly. The trout is thin, so it doesn’t take long to cook through. You can check it by lifting the skin and seeing if the meat flakes. Just be careful not to overcook it.
Serve this with a vinegary potato salad or a big green salad, some grilled veggies, and some crusty garlic bread for a hearty meal.
Recipe: Grilled Rainbow Trout
Makes 4 servings
- 4 1-lb rainbow trout, cleaned (gutted and scaled) and heads removed if you like
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 8 sprigs mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, marjoram, oregano, and/or rosemary
- Olive oil for brushing
- Kosher salt
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium direct heat. Clean the grill grate.
- While the grill is heating, sprinkle the cavity of each trout with salt. Stuff each trout with lemon slices and herb sprigs, dividing evenly. Press to close the cavity. Brush the outside of each trout with plenty of olive oil and set on a baking sheet.
- Add the trout to the grill directly over the fire. Cover and cook, turning a few times, until the trout is cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Serve at once.