Trumpeting trout

Smoked, fried or grilled,
this mild-flavored fish is suitable to serve on any occasion
Wednesday, December 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

As the owner of WindRush Farms fishing resort, Quint Drennan has met nearly every sort of trout fisher, and he has swapped some rather creative trout recipes with the anglers he has met.

“That’s one thing that is fun,” says Drennan. “We do swap recipes.”

An angler who had wandered far from his southern Louisiana home to fish at WindRush is one fisher that Drennan will never forget. “We had a real, live Cajun man at the lodge who looked like he hadn’t caught anything that didn’t have whiskers,” says Drennan. Looking a bit confused by the trout that obviously had no whiskers, the man asked Drennan how “Yankees like him” cooked the trout.

Drennan gave the man some advice and then inquired about his Cajun cooking habits.

“You’re a Yankee,” the man said, “You wouldn’t understand.” With that, he let Drennan in on an unusual, but tasty fish recipe. On first hearing the recipe, Drennan was a bit skeptical. But he tried the recipe, using trout, and now he recommends it to visitors. “It really complements the flavor of the fish,” he says.

The secret to this tempting Southern recipe is pepper sauce, usually Tabasco, Drennan said. He also recommends two fillets per person “with a couple of extras ’cause this is good.”

Cooks must soak the raw fish filet in straight Tabasco sauce — about a half bottle for 10 fillets — for 30 minutes. Then, slather the fillet in Grey Poupon mustard and roll in cornmeal. Fry until “crispy yummy.’’

For those who are a little less daring, there are traditional trout recipes that fit any occasion, including holiday parties.

Mike Kruse, a fisheries biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, enjoys smoked trout as an appetizer, which he brings to family celebrations such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Kruse suggests taking the entire cleaned trout and soaking it in a sugar and saltwater solution overnight. The next day, rinse it and let it smoke for about four to eight hours, depending on size. A smoker works, Kruse says, but any kind of heat source that causes the wood to smolder will do.

“It’s a bit more labor-intensive, but trout are very well suited for smoking,” says Kruse.

After the smoking is done, the whole fish can be presented on a platter with cheese and crackers, or the bones can be removed so that people can easily eat a piece as an appetizer.

A light dill sauce also goes well with trout, according to Drennan, who also brings trout appetizers to his social functions.

“I will take it to a ‘bring-a-dish-party,’ and people really eat it up,” says Drennan. Smoking or frying trout, Kruse says, gives the firmest trout a meat-like texture, which is preferred by many fish eaters.The recipe chosen can also influence the taste of trout, which is normally a mild-flavored fish that can taste much like salmon, according to Kruse.

Grilled trout is another quick fix that Drennan says he uses often. “It keeps the fuss and the muss outside.” Throw the trout filet on a fire not quite so hot as what is used for a steak, sprinkle some lemon butter and capers over the top, and it should be ready to eat in less than 10 minutes.

“The most important thing to remember when cooking trout is not to overcook it,” says Drennan.

Though Drennan and Kruse catch their trout, area grocers sell trout year-round. Whole, boneless, rainbow and Canadian trout can be found at area grocers, depending on their selection for about $5 to $7 per pound.

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