Smoked Trout Salad
When my husband went on an Alaskan fishing trip in 2019, he brought home trout as well as the expected salmon. I really had to think about what to do with the trout.
I’ve fished for trout often over the years in Utah and Colorado mostly, and my favorite way to prepare it is… at a cabin! I don’t care if I cook it inside on a rickety stove, or outside over a campfire. To me, it’s more of the ambiance of being in the mountains by a creek that makes just-caught trout so good.
My mother taught me how to fish. Sometimes, we didn’t plan on fishing, but we’d walk along a river and Mom would invariably find leftover line and a hook, then make disparaging remarks about the fishermen who left the mess. Then she’d dig up some kind of worm covered in pebbles, and voila. Trout dinner.
This is a picture from the last time my mother and I fished together in Utah, back when she was 70.
I contemplated what to do with this Alaskan trout, called Dolly Varden, and decided to smoke it. My immediate thought for a resourse was Hank Shaw, whose blog is Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Mr. Shaw is also the author of Buck Buck Moose, Duck Duck Goose, Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail, and Hunt, Gather, Cook, all of which have won awards.
This trout weighed 1 pound and 3 ounces and measured 12″ without its head.
Hank Shaw recommends drying the fish in a cool place overnight, which creates a sticky surface on the fish called a pellicle. This helps the smoke adhere to the fish. So I dried the trout overnight on a rack in the refrigerator, using a couple of toothpicks to hold the fish open. The next day I brought the fish close to room temperature before smoking.
I used alder wood chips, placed the trout on the rack, started the smoker over fairly high heat to get the wood smoking, then turned down the heat and let the smoke happen.
Thirty minutes worked perfectly. According to Mr. Shaw, the trout’s internal temperature should read between 175 and 200 degrees F, and mine was exactly at 175.
Let the trout cool slightly then remove the skin gently, and pull out the backbone.
The smoked trout is cooked, smokey, and tender. Perfection.
Break up the pieces of trout, removing any stray bones. Cover lightly with foil to keep the fish warm and proceed with the salad recipe.
Warm Smoked Trout Salad
2 hefty servings or 4 first course servings
6 fingerling potatoes, halved
1 can great northern white beans
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
Smoked trout, about 1 pound
French vinaigrette consisting of equal parts olive oil and a mild vinegar, chopped fresh garlic, Dijon mustard, and salt.
Grilled bread, for serving
Cook the potatoes until tender, then place them in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss gently.
Drain the beans well then add to the potatoes and toss gently. Allow the hot potatoes to warm the beans, then place them in a serving dish.
Add the hard-boiled eggs, and then top the salad with the warm trout.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and add the vinaigrette to taste.
Serve grilled bread on the side.
There are so many variations possible with this salad.
You could cover the platter in butter lettuce leaves first, and include fresh tomatoes or steamed green beans or even beets.
This salad is very mild in flavor, created to let the smoked trout shine. If you want a flavor pop, add chives or parsley to the vinaigrette.
Although not quite the same, high-quality smoked trout can be purchased on Amazon. I’ve used the one shown below left for smoked trout and shrimp paté.
I highly recommend the Cameron stove-top smoker. It works especially well with fish.
Here is the smoked trout recipe from Hank Shaw’s website; he uses a Traeger grill.
Gorgeous salad and how amazing to have the freshly caught trout!
Freshly trout, vacuum sealed and frozen, but yes, pretty darn fresh! Loved the color of the fish. Outside and in.
Wonderful salad idea!
Cool memories of you and your mom!
She’s still around, almost 92, and couldn’t see the fish hook any longer. But it was certainly one thing I loved doing with her! Freshly hot-smoked trout is so good!
I love your fishing photos! I wish I could get fresh trout to smoke here. I adore trout, but the ones I can get my hands on are really thin and sad compared to your gorgeous trout.
Oh really? That’s so sad. They’re so good in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and I’m sure Montana, but I’ve never had them anywhere else in the states. Too bad.
Everything on this plate is perfect. I am now drooling.
Ha! Well thank you!
Loving those trip photos! Absolutely stunning nature shots. Smoked homemade trout by itself is so delicious but with your salad fixings, it takes this recipe over the top.
Thanks. It’s a warm, rustic, and satisfying salad. Smoked trout is pretty spectacular!
There you go tempting me to want that smoker again… GREG
You mean you haven’t bought it yet?!!!
What a wonderful sight for the tummy! Fabulous salad, just right to show off the Trout. I haven’t seen trout anywhere for a very long time so you are a lucky girl to have a clever husband to bring home the fish. Good times with your Mum as well.
Yeah, thank you. She was always fun to fish with. The salad is rustic but I like that it’s served warm with the tasty fish on top!
this sounds absolutely delicious mimi. i love smoked fish; and how wonderful to DIY! love the look of your salad. cheers sherry
Thank you Sherry. Very rustic, but very satisfying!
I just had some lightly smoked trout for breakfast this morning. It was good. Many moons ago I fished for trout in the Colorado river and I still remember the flavor and taste of that fresh caught fish. Your salad looks wonderful.
Thank you. Yes, fresh trout is incredible. And so is smoked. I guess you’re out of the hospital?
What a fun post! I used to fish with my grandfather, but that was years ago. I miss those days! We fished in lakes in the Carolinas, so different types of fish…but fun all the same. I love smoking foods, and I’ve made smoked salmon before. It was delicious! Now I need to try my hand at smoking some trout. So cool that this trout came home with your husband, too!
I was excited to see trout, but I seriously was befuddled, cause I’d only cooked it in the mountains. It seemed weird to me to cook one on my stove! I just associate trout with beautiful mountains and rivers. but the smoking definitely worked well. I’ll do that again for sure.
Mimi, trout fishing is a passion with me and I usually smoke them in my Bradley smoker, so I’m always looking for new recipes. I love your smoked trout salad and will be eating it soon. Might just have to try it with smoked salmon as I have some of that in the fridge. Fresh caught trout cooked over a campfire, it doesn’t get any better than that.
No, it doesn’t. That’s what I was trying to convey. It seemed odd to cook a trout in my kitchen! We also have a Bradley smoker. Love it. So you also hot-smoke salmon?
I love smoked trout salad! Never smoked my own trout, though. You’re tempting me. :-) Really excellent post — thanks.
Thank you so much! I still remember the first time I tasted it. So delicious!
The trout and salad look great! We love our tabletop smoker, it works wonders. I’d probably stop at an internal temperature of 140. Trout with this color is called salmon trout around here. Not because it is actually a different species, but just because of the color. It is caused by the color of the shrimp they feed on.
I’ll try that next time. But the trout was definitely moist at 175 degrees. It was thicker than the salmon filets I usually smoke. I have limited experience overall with fish.
I usually just time it, 15 to 20 minutes in the tabletop smoker. When I put fish in the oven, I even pull it at 120 degrees.
Wow, this looks great! Filleting trout is really tricky because the backbone is so thin- you can start with your knife on top of the backbone and then find that the knife has wandered underneath the backbone, creating a mess. Anyway, I find that if you simply cook or bake it whole, the skeleton simply lifts off in one piece! I gotta try your smoking method one day!
The way I was taught by a fishing guide to filet trout is to use an electric knife. It works so well!
I will try drying the fish overnight next time we have fish to smoke. Dave’s son just looks at a line and the water and manages to catch fish :)
Isn’t that funny? It’s uncanny! I loved learning about the pellicle forming on the fish. A very interesting step.
I used to love fishing with my mother too! It’s been many years since I’ve held a fishing rod. What a fantastic way to use the trout. I love the smoked trout I can buy at the store but fresh must taste phenomenal! Another good reason to get that smoker too :)
another good reason!!! The kind I show in the photo that is canned is very good, but no, it’s not like freshly smoked of course. It’s really phenomenal.
I say this every time you show us your snap fish… I need to buy a stove top smoker! Your salad looks absolutely amazing, and what a great way to prepare trout!
It’s so quick and easy, too. And no clean up to speak of. If you don’t get one soon I’m sending you one for Christmas!
Such a great, beautiful photo of your mom fishing — and so cool she taught you to fish! Loving this trout recipe. I definitely need to coo with trout more often. I have the same stove-top smoker, so I might just try this! Yum! :-) ~Valentina
Oh, isn’t it fun to use! I love that it always makes the house smell so good. I also was reading the recipe book recently and discovered that there’s a way to tighten the lid so not so much smoke escapes. I wish I’d read that a long time ago!
I can get excellent brown trout here in Scotland which is a favourite of mine. A friend regularly fishes so there’s always some on offer. Next time I get a trout from him I’m going to use this excellent salad recipe. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your fishing photographs Mimi!
Oh, thanks so much. Somehow I thought you were in England, not Scotland. Sorry! We spent a wonderful 3 weeks touring Scotland. It was so much more beautiful than I even expected!
I’ve tried this recipe and it was to good. Specially the smoky taste makes it more delicious. Thanks for sharing :)
Absolutely! Glad you liked it!
Perfection indeed! What a great time :)
Thank you so much.
You are the second person who has told me about the stove top smoker. I really must get one. I often make smoked trout pate and just love it. This salad looks pretty worthy too!
It’s just so handy. I really need to use mine more often! It’s truly a miracle worker, if you love smoked meat and seafood. Some people smoke cheese, but I haven’t done that yet.
Loved the stunning photos of you and your mom on your fishing trip. I love trout, just had one this week and know I would enjoy your trout salad.
Thanks, Karen. Trout is pretty wonderful, but it was weird contemplating what to do with it in my home kitchen!
Mimi, you are truly a woman of many talents (and a few surprises)! I lived in Colorado for years and when I first moved there lived in the little town of Georgetown, which you probably passed by on your way to Aspen. Or maybe not if you came from the west. The trout fishing is excellent there. Your photos make me miss the mountains.
By the way, I found out if a Colorado Mt. Man invites you back to his place to see his trout, he literally means it and will at the slightest invitation pull the trout out of his freezer one by one and explain when/where/how he caught it in great detail. :)
I’ve never stopped in Georgetown, cause we always went to Vail or Aspen on road trips. We actually owned property in Redstone, kinda south of Aspen, and fully intended to move there until my husband convinced me to stay in Oklahoma. “We can travel,” he said. Well, we do. But it’s my favorite state still, and I miss the mountains too. Great story about the fishing stories!!!
This is an awesome post, Chef Mimi! Your vacation photos were breathtaking! This recipe sound delicious, but I’ve certainly never smoked my own trout. That stovetop smoker looks like a good purchase, thanks so much for sharing about it! Something new to try soon!
Thank you Marcelle! The stove top smoker is really handy. I actually should use it more often!!! Smoked trout and salmon are both so good.