The first time I really ever gave any thought to trout was while watching Gilmore Girls. In one episode, Richard Gilmore is dismayed at having fish for dinner, yet again, after his doctor advises him to cut back on red meat. His wife Emily counters back that it’s not such a bad thing, since they are eating sea bass, after all: “Trout can be a fishy fish. But sea bass is not really a fishy fish.”
Not that I get my ideas about food from drama-comedies revolving around the lives of a mother and daughter who both have a predilection for eating unwholesome amounts of junk food (yet possess perfect skin and slim physiques), but I realized then that trout does have a bit of a lukewarm reputation as gamey, pungent, and fishy, as if that were a bad thing.
In my opinion, Richard and Emily, those embodiments of New England gentility, should have embraced the idea of trout on their dinner table. It evokes timeless elegance—think lightly browned amandine, dressed in flecks of almond, creamy swipes of pâté on crackers, and svelte fillets, gently roasted or grilled.
In my head, Emily would come around to the charms of trout and serve one of these thirteen recipes at her next ladies’ luncheon or Friday supper. Especially the potato skins—she knows the value of a good finger food when she sees one.
1. Smoked Trout
If you have an outdoor grill, you can smoke your own fish. Not only is it more cost effective than buying it by the package, you'll get to brag about the time you made your own nosh, DIY style. Use this recipe as the base for any one of the following smoked trout recipes. Get our Smoked Trout recipe.
2. Smoked Trout Pâté
Do you like to schmear? This spread will happily grace any cracker, toast, or crudité you put it on, adding a touch of hickory perfume to every bite. Get our Smoked Trout Pâté recipe.
3. Smoked Trout Potato Skins
Appetizing time meets game time: these boats bridge the best of delicatessen and pub fare. Get our Smoked Trout Potato Skins recipe.
4. Smoked Trout Crostini
Like barbecue sauce on brisket or pickles on a bacon burger, any deep and smoky meat is enhanced by adding something tart to lift and counterbalance those big flavors. Here, crème fraîche, lemon, and Granny Smith apple bring that panache. Get our Smoked Trout Crostini recipe.
5. Smoked Trout Hash
Bagels don't have to be the only item in your brunch spread that take on the charms of smoked fish. Lightly crisped hash browns are another welcoming medium for delicate flakes of smoked trout. Get the recipe here.
6. Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs
The key to a great deviled egg is just enough acid to brighten things up—lemon and Dijon do that just swell in this recipe. Think of the trout as an added bonus, adding a subtle something extra to the overall profile. Get the recipe here.
7. Smoked Trout Brandade
Just in case you haven’t noticed the theme yet, smoked trout brings out the best in pretty much anything creamy or starchy. A brandade might just be the holy grail of them all, situating the fish in a luxuriant field of potatoes, garlic, and cheese. Get the recipe here.
8. Winter Vegetable Soup with Smoked Trout
Root vegetable soup can feel stoic, like its holding back from its fullest potential. But a simple addition like smoked trout can take it a step further and beyond, adding intrigue to each slurp. Get the recipe here.
9. Trout Almondine
Trout almondine is one of the classics of French cooking, in which the fillets are lightly dredged and pan-fried then coated in a meuniere sauce flecked with almonds. It looks stunningly sophisticated on the plate, yet is a cinch to put together. Get the recipe here.
10. Trout Cakes With Basil Vinaigrette Recipe
Crab cakes move aside, trout has totally one upped you at your game. Not only are these puppies packed with savory, herb-laced deliciousness, they're easier on the wallet than pricey lump crab meat. Get the recipe here.
11. Fried Speckled Trout with Black-eyed Peas
Catfish isn't the only fish deserving of the Southern-fried treatment. Here, trout is encrusted in cornmeal and served with black eyed peas, bacon, and greens, for a main appropriate of a soul food feast. Get the recipe here.
12. Roasted Trout, Watermelon Radishes and Dandelion Greens Salad
One of the brilliant things about trout is that while it can take on some heavy and sumptuous presentations, it’s equally at home in lighter dishes as well. This summery salad pairs it up with colorful radishes and lightly dressed dandelion greens. Get the recipe here.
13. Campfire Trout with Herbs and Bacon
Going camping? You couldn’t get more rugged and rustic than a whole trout roasted over the fire. Bonus points if you catch it yourself. Get our recipe.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.