Perfectly fried trout
There are dozens of recipes that claim to produce “the best trout dish”. But most share a common aspect – crispy skin. There is little debate, crispy skin can make or break almost any trout dish. Unfortunately achieving a perfect, crispy skin is also one of the most difficult tasks a cook can face. More times than not it will stick, burn or turn to mush. But follow these simple steps and crispy skin is less than 10 minutes away!
Cooking the perfect (crispy skinned) trout is as simple as Dry-Season-Cook-Flip.
The main reason that cooks fail to achieve the perfect crisp on a fish skin is a failure to dry the fish prior to cooking. Wet fish produces steam when cooked and steam prevents the skin from crisping. Prior to cooking pat the fillets with a paper towel removing any water. Now place the fish in the refrigerator uncovered until needed.
I am not talking about seasoning the fish. I am talking about seasoning the pan. Whether you are using a standard fry pan at home or a cast iron skillet over the camp fire the theory is the same – a seasoned (hot) pan works best.
Heat pan on a high heat until it starts to smoke. Now carefully add I TSP of butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt. Quickly swirl around pan, coating entire pan. If using butter be careful not to allow the butter to burn as it will discolor the fish. Remove pan from heat, dump out excess oil/butter and wipe with paper towel.
Return pan to reduced heat. Add another TSP of butter or oil and coat pan. Now, add fillets skin side down. Do not over crowd pan- you want each fillet to fit in a manner which allows it to lay flat. Cook for approx. 5 minutes or until all but thickest portion of flesh is cook through- majority of flesh will be white and flakey and remaining portion will look raw.
Another major mistake cooks make is flipping fillet too many times. The more you flip it the less chance the skin has to crisp. Flip it once, after cooking the majority of the flesh. After flipping remove the pan from the heat, let fish set for approximately 1-2 minutes and fillet will be fully cooked.
There you have it the four easy steps to the perfect fish fillet and more importantly the crispy skin you desire! For added flavor ( if you think it is necessary) add a little garlic to oil during cooking phase, or sprinkle fillet with a little salt prior to flipping. Don’t worry fresh fish are not naturally salty so a pinch will help open the flavor a bit without over doing it.