Here’s how to fillet a trout

So for all of you in fear, take heart. Here’s my handy guide to filleting a trout, a skill I picked up from my parents and Julia Child.

Trout is wonderful dinner choice, not too fishy, but with more taste and flavor that bland cod or other whitefish Americans seem to favor. I’ve written about making steelhead trout, but rainbow trout is more common, especially in the Midwest, and can be a great main course too.

But many home cooks are intimidated by the idea of buying a whole trout and taking the bones out of it before cooking, filleting it.

So for all of you in fear, take heart. Here’s my handy guide to filleting a trout, a skill I picked up from my parents and Julia Child.

I buy whole trout at Costco because then tend to be cheaper per pound than elsewhere plus Costco has larger trout. They come whole though. So start by cutting off the heads and tails. Be sure you’re using a very, very sharp knife for all these steps to make them easier. Cutting through a trout’s skin with a dull knife can be a no-win proposition.

Next, position the fish so its spine is near your cutting hand (right or left). Then guide your knife along that spin through the skin. Keep guiding it against the tiny ribs you’ll encouter, keeping as much flesh on the fillet as possible. Again here, the sharper your knife the better.

Start by cutting off the heads and tails. Use a very sharp knife.
Start by cutting off the heads and tails. Use a very sharp knife.

Next, get your knife tip up against the spin and cut through the skin toward the bones.
Next, get your knife tip up against the spin and cut through the skin toward the bones.
Your finished fillets. Great work, time for dinner!
Your finished fillets. Great work, time for dinner!

Once you’ve done one side of the fish, you may be able to dislodge the spin and ribs with your knife and pull it away from the other fillet.

More certain though, is to simply repeat the step above, flipping the fish over.

And, you’re ready to cook your delicious trout!

John

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