This little trick for pan-fried trout fillets will make them fry extra crispy and taste extra delicious. Plus, video instructions for how to easily fillet your fresh-caught trout. (Scroll down to videos.) (Skip to recipe.)

fried trout fillet on blue plate with herbed new potatoes and zucchini-pepper stir fry

I have been in a blogging slump. My heart has not been into writing, here in this space where I find such pleasure and joy in creating and sharing. Sometimes in life, bigger forces just take over and you need to roll with it and give your brain some space to rejuvenate itself.

So today I finally pulled up my socks and made myself sit in my chair and get this post out to you, which I have started writing a million times. I just could never get the gumption up to put it all together. I’ve decided that maybe simply making myself go through the motions and starting again will get my writer’s block unblocked!

I’m back.

It was wonderful to be at the lake again earlier this summer. I had two glorious weeks of lazing in the clean northern air with my mother and several of my sisters, fishing, having saunas, dipping in the cold lake, going for walks, reading, playing cards, and of course, cooking and eating delicious meals. Going unplugged, with no internet for the whole time, was a refreshing recharge for the soul. The days melded into one another and slowly I was able to breathe again.

view of the lake from the cabin

looking out at the lake

mom in front of a yarrow plant

mom picking yarrow to dry for tea

outhouse with fireweed around it

relaxing with sister Nancy, Mom, and sister Adelheid

pushing off the boat

heading out fishing, Nancy with our nephew Clay and his girlfriend Jessica

out on the fishing boat

good catch! me, mom, and Nancy out fishing. Nancy netting our dinner

Mom and Nancy experimented with pickling the trout. It was a very delicious success.

a fresh whole trout lying in the sink

gallon jar of pickled trout pieces outside

(Skip to Caramelized Fried Trout Fillet recipe.)

[VIDEOS] How to Fillet a Fish (and How to Skin the Fillet)

Mom, with her 80+ years of experience, and many decades as a fisherman’s wife, taught us how to fillet a fish. Here she is, sharing her skills in a couple short videos:

I came home and tried it myself with fresh trout I brought from the lake, and I didn’t do too badly for my beginning attempts!

two beautiful pink fresh trout fillets

yes, they’re a bit mangled, but I think I’ll get better at it the more I practice

(Skip to Caramelized Trout Fillets recipe.)

Delicious Lake Meals

We had many wonderful meals at the cabin, as always.

collage of Nancy making trout burgers

Nancy making fresh trout burgers – amazing with big chunks of fresh trout, panko crumbs, egg, and spices

collage of Rosalinda cooking dinner

Rosalinda making her signature garlic baked potatoes (cooked in the sauna fireplace), a beet and avocado cake (recipe to come) and a tender bear roast (hunted by my sister, Ingrid, who couldn’t make it this year)


Work and Play

A couple of the husbands (Sonny and Raymond) came and joined us for the last few days, and they had some work bees with neighbour Dave to repair rotting posts on the outdoor port.

men working on the posts

working with neighbour Dave to re-cement the posts of the

After some good hard work, it was time to go fishing again. François Lake is so cold and deep (over 800 feet in places), that the trout are superbly clean and fresh-tasting. The lake also has fantastic Arctic Char fishing.

waving us off from the dock

the men waving us off as we head out on another fishing excursion

walking up from the lake

coming up from the lake after fishing

We also shared some wonderful visits and a delicious Haida Gwaii meal at neighbours Dave and Irene’s place (recipes to come).

For recipes and stories from previous visits to the François Lake cabin, you can read about:

I snapped a photo of this friendly visitor right through the kitchen window of the cabin.  We saw several other deer, two black bears, owls, many foxes, squirrels, and rabbits, several bald eagles (one baby in its nest while fishing at the far end of Paradise Island), and many of the resident bats as they swooped and swirled each night at dusk.

the deer looking at us through the kitchen window

And of course, we saw many fish jumping each day, flopping their silver-sided bellies in the air as they went after bugs, then leaving behind their ever-widening rings of ripples as they disappeared back into the depths of the lake. Nothing beats the flavours of a plump and buttery trout that’s just hours before been swimming in a cold, pristine northern Canadian lake. It’s a gift from Mother Nature at her finest. I feel so blessed to have that experience.

Normally, if you pan-fry trout fillets, they are cooked through long before they have time to brown and crisp up because they are so thin. With the trick in this recipe, they actually caramelize a bit and brown quickly so you don’t overcook them, allowing the delicate meat to remain moist and tender.

 * * * * * 

Kitchen Frau Notes: Sprinkling ¼ teaspoon of sugar onto each side of the trout fillet before frying is the secret to helping the fish caramelize and brown quickly before it gets overcooked. The small amount of sugar doesn’t affect the taste, but makes for a beautiful pan-fried fish fillet.

horizontal view, trout fillet dinner on the plate

Caramelized Fried Trout Fillets

Serves 2

  • 1 fresh trout (12 to 14 inches long, head to tail)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil + 1 tablespoon butter for frying

Scale, gut, and clean the trout. Remove the head.

Fillet the fish (see the video instructions above).

Pat the trout fillets dry with a paper towel. Lay them skin-side-down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the flesh side lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle each fillet evenly with ¼ teaspoon of sugar on the flesh side.

Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat until it’s shimmering.

Place the trout fillets, skin-side-up, into the hot oil. Sprinkle the skin side of each fillet in the pan evenly with ¼ teaspoon of sugar. (If you fry them flesh side first, the fillets won’t curl up while cooking.) Fry the trout fillets for about 2 minutes, until the bottom (flesh side) is browned in spots and caramelized (helped along by the sugar).

Then flip the fillets over, skin-side-down, and fry for another 2 minutes until the skin is blistered and crispy, and the trout is just-cooked and tender (the sugar helps the skin to crisp-up and caramelize).

Serves 2 (or one hungry fisherman).

Guten Appetit!


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