When asked if I could do a recipe in keeping with the theme of the Annual Mountain Issue of Our State, I thought I could probably pull it off without much problem.
Just exactly what would make a good “mountain” recipe was the question. And then, it was suggested that I might prefer to do one based on Brook Trout, a native fish to Western North Carolina.
Brook Trout are considered game fish. That means, you can’t just run out to the store and buy them. You have to catch them. I love to fish, but there are lots of rules, regulations, and sometimes special permits needed in order to fish for Brook Trout.
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.
As it turned out, my brother and I were headed through the mountains to deliver one of the pig cookers he sells. I thought surely I’d be able to talk with someone along the way that could clue me in on a good traditional mountain recipe.
Five hours away from home, we reached our destination and delivered the cooker. We always get into various conversations about cooking with the new pig cooker owner on these trips, which is a lot of fun. As we were about to leave, I asked the lady of the house if she knew of anything in particular that I might be able to use as a mountain recipe. Her eyes lit up as she started telling me about a very special dish that her grandmother always made for her as a child. It wasn’t about fish though.
I mentioned that I had hoped to do a recipe using Brook Trout, but had to abandon the idea because I couldn’t buy trout. Her eyes lit up again and a big smile came across her face.
Without hesitation she said, “I’ve got a couple right here in the freezer you can have.” Turns out her whole family enjoys hunting and fishing and she had a few Brook Trout leftover from a recent camping trip. Needless to say, my brother and I both were flabbergasted with her offer. She handed me three foil wrapped pieces of fish and told me how her family enjoyed cooking them around the camp fire.
Grinning from ear to ear, I told her she had just made my day. We thanked her a few more times and then loaded up for the ride back home. I was so thankful for my blessing of three simple fish that day.
I decided to fish pan fried trout for my recipe. It’s fairly easy and I do hope you’ll give it a try. If you don’t get the chance to fish for your own Brook Trout, I hope someone might be generous enough to share some with you as well. Until then, grab some Whiting, Tilapia, or another flaky white fish and let’s get cookin’!
I do hope you get a chance to enjoy Brook Trout. Getting out and catching a few fish is always a good day. And if you can’t, you can still find some great fish at your local grocery store or farmers market.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories about Brook Trout. I’ll be waiting to hear from you in the comment section below. Special thanks to the “W” family for sharing of their bounty and providing the fish for this recipe.
Steve Gordon is a writer, recipe tester, and lover of all things Southern. You can read more of his writing and step-by-step recipes at tasteofsouthern.com.