Pan-fried Fresh Montana Trout

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

by Cat, November, 2007; Updated June 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Nothing beats fresh-caught trout from one of Montana’s lakes or streams. Farmed trout don’t even come close, but when you have a craving for trout and fishing season is over, it will do in a pinch.

My favorite is native brown trout, caught fresh and fried at the campsite for breakfast, but I also like rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. We have non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake, but they get pretty huge and I don’t like them as well.

Pan Fried Trout

I learned to fry trout from my Dad. The recipe for the Lemon Herb sauce is adapted from a recipe card at my local fish counter.  You can dust the fish with white flour as in the original recipe, or Organic fine-grind cornmeal as I do.

Serves 2; about 276 calories each.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Trout:
  • 2 small whole fresh trout, cleaned (about 1.5 pounds each)
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour or Organic cornmeal
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp lard or coconut oil, more if needed
  • Lemon Herb Sauce
  • ⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme)
  • Equipment
  • plate
  • cast iron skillet


  1. Fish: Cut head from trout and trim fins. Leave tail in place. Coat trout with seasoned flour or cornmeal, patting to remove excess.
  2. Heat lard in a large cast iron skillet. Add trout; cook over medium heat until browned, about 5 min.
  3. Carefully turn fish and continue cooking until fish is opaque through thickest part, about 4 minutes longer.
  4. Transfer fish to individual warmed plates, and cover to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
  5. Lemon Herb Sauce: Add lemon juice and herbs to drippings in the pan, adding more butter if necessary, and cook over medium heat, stirring, just until heated through, about 30 seconds.
  6. Pour sauce over fish and serve immediately.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  • Garnish fish with sprigs of fresh thyme or parsley.
  • Serve with brown rice, or small red potatoes, steamed and tossed with melted butter and chopped parsley.  Steamed asparagus is an excellent side dish.

Broiled Trout with Preserved Lemons

This recipe is adapted from Helen Rennie’s recipe website: Broiled Sea Bream with Moroccan Lemons (1). The original recipe uses sea bream, but fresh-caught Montana trout is delicious prepared this way!

The original recipe also uses fresh lemon juice in addition to the preserved lemon; however, my preference is to use some of the liquid from the preserved lemon, then add fresh juice as necessary to make 1 tsp total. Then discard the pith of the lemon and prepare peel as instructed.

Serves 2. I’ve not yet tested this recipe.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 2 Tbsp Crispy Pine Nuts (See box below)
  • ¼ preserved lemon
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • ¼ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fresh trout (about 1 lb each)
  • Lemon butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp liquid from preserved lemon, plus fresh juice as necessary
  • ¼ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • Equipment
  • glass jar
  • baking pan or small cast iron skillet
  • broiler pan
  • small saucepan


  1. Prepare crispy pine nuts (see below), but don’t grind them. Start this two days before preparing trout. Set aside.
  2. Slice ¼ of a preserved lemon crosswise into paper thin slices. Place in small glass bowl or jar.
  3. Slice scallion, chop parsley, and add to lemon.
  4. Finely mince garlic, add ¼ tsp salt, then press with side of knife until liquifies; add to lemon mix. Add pepper and olive oil. Mix well with small whisk or fork.
  5. Clean fish, removing head and fins. Rinse & dry well with towels. Spread some of the lemon mixture inside each fish, then spread remainder of mixture on their outsides.
  6. Place into a broiler pan (you may wish to line the pan with foil). Broil 5 minutes; flip over and broil 5 minutes more.
  7. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Take off heat, add lemon juice and salt.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Place fish onto warm plates; pour lemon butter over and sprinkle with crispy pine nuts.
  • Accompany with a green salad, seared green beans or asparagus, and steamed red potatoes.

Crispy Pine Nuts boxReferences



About Cat

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