Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese New Year: Whole Grilled Golden Trout

Abundance to you for the New Year! Cooking a whole fish for Chinese New Year symbolizes abundance. We can all use a little of that this year, right? Serving the fish with its head and tail also signifies "good beginnings and endings". I shopped at Central Market the other day and found this gorgeous golden trout. How perfect! The meat in this variety of trout is a red meat, much like salmon, and the skin color is truly golden. Kinda shimmery. Trout is one of my favorite fishes to throw on the grill, though I tend to smoke it, as seen here and here.

The entire dish took about 25 minutes from prep to platter. Not bad, eh? Here is the recipe, though it's so easy I can hardly call it that.

1-2 whole fish. Trout, golden or rainbow, works nicely, but any fish that is a little under a pound will do.
Kosher salt
One bunch fresh herbs. I used thyme.
Sliced citrus
High heat vegetable oil

Step 1: Preheat your gas grill. I turned on my little Char-broil Infrared Quantum grill. It's a little two burner grill that lives on my deck outside the kitchen. I really love it for grilled fish because the infrared system, while it can get super hot, is somehow gentler on the skin. The whole science of it has all be explained to me in manuals at official Char-broil meetings, but I just like how it handles a fish. With a gentle touch.

For those on the staunch "up with charcoal, down with gas" team, make a medium hot fire with an indirect space.

Step 2: Prep your fish. Leave it whole. I left the bones in and removed them once cooked. Dust the inside lightly with kosher salt. Stuff with fresh herbs and sliced citrus. I used whole stems of thyme and sliced tangerine. Sage and lemon are lovely too. Give the outside a light coating of high temperature safflower or other vegetable oil.

Step 3: Once grill is fully preheated, turn it down to medium high and place the whole fish on the grill. Close the lid. After about 4-5 minutes (I had a pretty good sized trout, so less time for smaller fish, depending on it's size, carefully lift and turn it two clicks on the clock for some nice crosshatch marks. When it's ready fish should lift fairly easily off the grill. If the skin is really stuck, it may be too soon. If the skin is falling off, it's too late. I gently lift up a part of the fish to check if it is ready.

Step 4: Carefully flip the fish over. Turn heat down to low. Grill for another 2-3 minutes until the red meat just about turns to pink, or the clear meat just about turns to white. Take off and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Serve whole, cutting portions for your family at the table for good luck and abundance in the new year.

You will need to remove the bones. My kids really enjoyed this part of the meal. I took the entire spine out in one swoop. We had a short science lesson on fish anatomy, then dug in. They loved it. Even Eric said "Good job, honey," and I don't get a lot of cooking compliments from him. It's not because he's mean. He just doesn't gush gratuitously. And he wants to make sure all this She-Smoke business doesn't go to my head. God forbid!

Happy Year of the Snake! May it be a great year for all of you.



  1. Can't wait to try this! Trout reminds me of being 7 and fishing with my grandfather all day. It's also a gorgeous fish that benefits from a nice smoke. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

  2. Please do, Sierra! I love trout on the grill, and since the kids do too, it's an easy choice for dinner.