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.)
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!
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.
Mom and Nancy experimented with pickling the trout. It was a very delicious success.
(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!
(Skip to Caramelized Trout Fillets recipe.)
Delicious Lake Meals
We had many wonderful meals at the cabin, as always.
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.
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.
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:
- 2011: Nature’s Gifts: Fresh Trout, Morels, and a Side of Bannock
- 2012: Rich Creamy Succotash (and a Trip to the Lake)
- 2013: End of Summer at the Cabin, and Bannock Biscuits
- 2014: Campfire Baked Potatoes and a Glorious Lazy Week at the Cabin
- 2015: Juniper Berry and Raisin Stuffed Porkchops Over the Campfire
- 2016: Lazyman Skillet Bannock and Cooking at the Cabin
- 2017: Cornmeal Crusted Trout, Garlic Baked Potatoes, and the Call of the Loon
- 2019: Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Garlic Butter - Summer Livin' at the Lake
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.
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.
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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.
Caramelized Fried Trout Fillets
- 1 fresh trout (12 to 14 inches long, head to tail)
- 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).
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What a great way to fry fish fillets! I would never have thought of the sugar. It should work with any fillets, right? Francois Lake is so beautiful. We drove out to see it on our way home.
I think it should work well with other types of fish, too. I thought I'd give it a try with the trout this summer, and was so pleased with the results - you get such a nice browning without having to cook the fish for too long. I'm going to try it with other fish, too.
Yes, Francois Lake is really special. It's so long and narrow, but with lots of really spectacular sections with stunning hills in the background and rugged wild landscape around it. My parents' cabin is on the far western end, and it's a really beautiful little corner where they are.
your time at the lake cabin with mum and sisters sounds so lovely and wholesome! I love how you all enjoy the catching/foraging and preparing of food. Those trouts look amazing!
Thank you so much for sharing the video footage of your mum, I really appreciate it! She's a gem - and so skilled. The process seems so easy and naturally, one can really see all the years of experience in her movements.
We were at Balaton lake in Hungary this summer, visiting my parents in law, and the kids got to do some fishing. Every now and then they caught perches but the main fun was getting up at 6:30 or earlier and going fishing with grandpa. 🙂
How's the garden back home? I found it weird to abandon ours for two weeks, so much happens...
Liebe Grüße from Germany! Sina
Yes, I feel so blessed to have the chance to go to the cabin in the summers (even though it's an 11 hour drive). It is a place to truly rejuvenate and reconnect with my family and myself. We sisters all really enjoy cooking together, and have such fun sharing the chores and new knowledge with each other. And mom is so full of energy! She's always doing some project or other - even when she sits and rests, she's knitting! She has a lot to teach us.
Your lake time in Hungary sounds wonderful! How great for children to have the chance to be in nature, catch fish, and learn where our food comes from. Fishing with grandpa is the best! (our kids were lucky to have that also, when they were growing up.)
You said it about the garden - that's always the hardest thing about leaving it in the summer, and it's always a careful decision about which two weeks would be the least problematic to be away for. It never fails that when we return after two weeks away, it seems like everything went crazy and got gigantic while we were gone - including the weeds! And we always miss the harvest of at least ones variety. Our fava beans became ripe while we were gone this year, so I missed most of them, and also missed the last of the strawberries and saskatoons. It's a balancing act.
Und liebe Grüße aus Kanada!
Our trip to Francois Lake was outstanding this year. With all the fishing and experimenting with new recipes for pickling trout my body and soul have reconnected with our land. The best part is spending time with family again after a much long wait.
Love the detailed description of our time together. Pictures capture the special moments. Your videos of Mom are priceless. Thanks for getting inspired to blog again.
Thank you so much, Nancy. It was a special time, as always, and maybe even more so since we hadn't seen each other in so long.
Hugs and love to you.