Trout is a very popular freshwater fish that is caught in its natural habitat or kept in aquaculture projects. The funny thing about trout is that it’s not one type of fish but a name for a group of fish that hail from the Salmonidae family. Trout is therefore in the same family group and subgroup as its more famous contemporary salmon. This is made all the more confusing by the fact that some species of salmon were incorrectly classified as trout and vice versa. The daunting task of explaining what trout tastes like must be approached first with a full understanding of what trout is.
Trout, as pointed out before, is not one single species of fish but a grouping of many species. Most of the fish in the trout grouping live in freshwater though species like rainbow trout are known to spend some years in the sea and return to freshwater. The rainbow was however proven by DNA testing to be the same fish as the steelhead salmon. Trout is described as being a spotty fish with a rounded head from an appearance perspective. They have rounded bodies and straight ended tail. The flesh of trout is a florid-red colour and is fatty compared to most other fish.
Trout have a taste that is considered to be bland by many opinions and pallets. Its lack of a distinct flavour has many placing trout closer to catfish which also does not have a distinct flavour that can be discerned. You could go as far as to say trout is right in the middle of fish flavours. Trout are most often described as being mildly flavoured. The exact flavour of trout is difficult to pinpoint because it lacks a standout flavour as compared to the sweet flavour to salmon or the thick flavour of Nile perch. In some cases, tasters have noted that lake bread trout have a slight mineral or earthy tang to its taste. If you were to compare trout to other animal meats you could say that trout is the chicken of fish. Placing dead in the middle of most taste scales while being easily adaptable with both sweet and savoury flavours.
The texture of trout contributes to how the taste of trout is experienced so it’s also an important factor to consider when pondering the taste of trout. Trout has very soft meat. In terms of its delicacy, it is in the same range as its cousin salmon. With the confusion between the species, the textures also lead to more confusion between the two. Trout has a very delicate flakey texture that means when cooking it the shorter the cooking period the better. It responds well to light steaming, quick searing and quick baking.
The difficulty with preparing trout comes from how delicate the flesh of the fish is. Its flakey texture means you really cannot cook it in processes that involve long periods of cooking. You are likely to cook all the tenderness out of the fish and remain with very flakey flavoured cardboard. Light quick steaming works very well with trout of all kinds. Because of its lack of a distinct strong flavour, it easily inherits flavour in the steaming process. Another great way, and perhaps the best to prepare trout is to lightly pan sear it. Best because it cooks the flesh and locks in its natural mild flavour and fat. You can also bake trout. This is advisable with whole trout rather than fillets. Another highly esteemed way of preparing trout is to smoke it. Smoked trout is a well-renowned food hero. Its mild flavour means trout can take on flavour from wood varieties used in the smoking process. The tenderness of this fish makes it very quick smoking and you can easily smoke the whole trout in a matter of 2-3 hours.
Aside from its texture we have so far observed that trout is very much a middle of the road fish. Trout, therefore, does very well with many of the mainstream flavours associated with fish. Garlic, butter, lemon and parsley are found in many trout recipes. Trout is of course much more versatile than just those seasonings. You will find many great trout recipes that feature more exotic flavours such as orange, saffron, lime and the more down to earth such as simple black pepper. You can even find trout recipes with brown sugar and syrup in them!
In conclusion, trout is a fish that is mostly described as possessing a mild and neutral flavour. While it does carry the flavour of most oily fish it has no other distinguishing characteristics to its taste. It is a very soft textured fish which doesn’t require long cooking periods. Trout’s texture also allows the fish to take on flavour very easily and blends with many ingredients. You will find trout combined with garlic, butter, lemon, lime, black pepper, saffron and even brown sugar. The texture of trout also allows for it to be prepared either by steaming, baking, searing or smoking.