Fresh from the River

  • By Charlotte Fekete
  • Photography by John Autry

Learn three simple, well-balanced ways to cook local trout.

Pan Cooked Trout

In North Carolina, trout is our ultimate local food. It can be swimming in the morning and on our plates for dinner that evening. There’s no freezing required, and that’s a luxury not many people have. So, thank the cold, crystal-clear mountain waters of western North Carolina and the hard-working farms and farmers, like Sunburst Trout Company in Canton, for raising some of the most delicious trout there is.

“Even before I worked here, I always knew Sunburst was the best-tasting, freshest fish I could get,” Sunburst’s Research and Development Chef Charles Hudson says. And that’s because Sunburst does things just a little differently. The feed is all-natural with no animal by-products, no antibiotics, and no growth hormones.

As for the water, it can’t get much cleaner than Sunburst’s, coming straight from the Pisgah National Forest and flowing at a rate of about 12,000 gallons per minute. “The water is super clean and has been tested,” CEO Sally Eason says. “It has zero traceability for anything.”

And lastly, the size: Sunburst grows the trout just a little bigger than the norm so the fish have time to produce more fat (the good kind of fat).

See our guide to mountain trout. With the help of writers, foodies, and travelers, we compiled a unique set of information about mountain trout in North Carolina. Click here to see it all.

Fish this simple doesn’t require any fancy recipes, but there’s plenty of room for creativity. Chef Hudson is constantly coming up with new recipes and preparations — like a trout carpaccio or trout poached with saffron and apple cider vinegar.

“It’s so versatile you can really cook it in any way,” he says. Or, if you’re new to cooking trout, take some of Hudson’s advice, and give broiling a try. “Broiling is quick,” he says. “You can season the trout however you want, and it’s done in 5 to 7 minutes.” Hudson’s bottom line? “Don’t be afraid to experiment with it,” he says. After all, it’s nearly impossible to make fish this good taste bad.

Sunburst Trout Company
128 Raceway Place
Canton, N.C. 28716
(828) 648-3010

Pan-Cooked Trout with Olive Topping

This topping dresses up the trout without overshadowing it.

for topping

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • grated zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

for trout

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large red trout fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Prepare the topping. Mix together chopped olives, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil in a medium-size bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Begin heating vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Season trout fillets liberally with salt and pepper; dust all over with flour. Cook trout, skin side up, for about 3 to 4 minutes to lightly brown. Turn and continue cooking another 2 to 3 minutes or until fish is opaque and cooked to your liking. Serve with prepared olive topping.

Lemon Roasted Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce

This simple, special recipe is full of fresh lemon flavor.

Serves 4

for trout

  • 4 large red trout fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced (try to get 16 to 18 slices from one lemon)

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425˚. Place trout fillets, skin side down, on a nonstick baking sheet; season liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange lemon slices over top of trout so that they are completely covering the flesh. Roast for about 15 minutes or until fish is opaque and lemon slices are starting to curl.

While trout cooks, prepare the sauce. Pour lemon juice into a blender. If using basil and parsley, add, blend, and scrape sides down with a spatula. Add melted butter with the motor running and blend until a sauce forms, about 20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, take fillets straight to the table and let each diner remove his or her own lemon slices. Serve sauce on the side.

Cook’s Note: Try adding the herbs for a variation on the sauce, but if you’re in the mood for something simpler, just skip the sauce altogether.

Quick Broiled Mustard Trout

This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Charles Hudson at the Sunburst Trout Company.

Serves about 4

  • 4 large red trout fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard (Chef Hudson likes to use Lusty Monk brand:

Preheat broiler to high with top rack placed about 6 inches away from heating element. Place trout fillets, skin side down, on a nonstick baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together seasoned salt, Old Bay, lemon juice, and mustard. Spread mustard mixture evenly over top of trout. Broil for about 5 to 7 minutes or until fish is opaque and cooked to your liking.

Charlotte Fekete lives in Marshall.

This entry was posted in April 2010, Outdoors, Recipes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fresh from the River

  1. Pingback: A Guide to Mountain Trout | Our State Magazine

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