February and March is prime time for trout fishing in the Foothills and Valley region and lakes like Amador, recently-opened Pardee, Camanche, Berryessa, Folsom, New Melones, Collins and Shasta can pump out some very good action for boat and bank anglers alike.
While catching trout is a blast, eating them can be even more fun – if you know how to cook ‘em right.
And there’s nobody better at it (the cooking part, anyway) than celebrity wild game and fish chef, Scott “The Sporting Chef” Leysath. Host of the awesomely cool show Dead Meat on the Sportsmen Channel, and the author of countless magazine articles and several books on the subject, Leysath is the man when it comes to cooking what you’ve hooked.
In a recent chat, I told him that I’ve been in a rut lately when it comes to preparing trout. I usually just wrap the fish in foil, add some lemon, butter, pepper and garlic and throw it on the barbie. Don’t get me wrong — It tastes great this way, but a little variety once in a while isn’t such a bad thing. For those of you out there like me looking for a new way to cook your catch, Leysath suggested his trout with herb vinaigrette recipe.
He said that you can bake, broil or pan-fry trout this way, but his favorite method is to throw it on the grill.
To make a 4-serving meal, start with four 1-pound trout (cleaned with the head on). You’ll also need ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of salt, ½ cup of white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon sugar, ½ cup olive oil and 1/3 cup fresh, chopped herbs. On the herb front, go with whichever ones you like best or what’s in-season at the supermarket.
“First, butterfly the fish,” he says. “To butterfly, use a sharp boning knife and, starting at the head, run the knife between both sides and the spine. This will separate the bones from the spine and fish can be opened up flat (after cooking, the bones can be easily removed). Then, you’ll want to season fish with salt and pepper.”
After that, it’s time to make the herb vinaigrette. Scott says to combine your remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Next, you’ll need to baste the fish with the vinaigrette mixture in the jar and let everything stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Now, the fun part!
“Place your fish, skin-side down on a medium heat barbecue,” he says. “Cover the fish with the lid or foil for 5 minutes, then baste again and give the fish a quarter turn with a spatula. Cover again and cook for 5 minutes more. At that point, your fish should be done throughout. If your trout turns out too dry, don’t blame the fish – you’ve overcooked it. When done, remove the bones and serve with your vinaigrette mixture on the side.”
Yum! I’ve tried several of Scott’s recipes and they’ve all been outstanding! For more innovate and tasty ways to cook your favorite fish and game, check out his website: www.huntfishcook.com