Brown trout are native to Europe, but were introduced to North America in the 1800s by a New York fish farmer curtesy of the German Fishing Society. For this reason, brown trout are sometimes referred to as German browns. They are distinct from other trout species because of their small, clustered brown spots. This trout species quickly spread down the Atlantic coast and have been a part of Southern cooking ever since.
Trout are known for having a strong fishy flavor and brown trout are no different. Although they can grow up to a record forty pounds, smaller brown trout—usually less than two pounds—have always been the best for eating.
Larger brown trout have a stronger flavor that can be overpowering when cooking, but some seafood connoisseurs enjoy this fishy taste. Fishermen recommend soaking brown trout filets in milk overnight to pull some of the oil and overly-fishy taste from the meat.
The basics of cooking trout have always been the same: clean out entrails, scale larger fish (scales can stay on smaller fish), prep the filet, and cook!
Brown trout have traditionally been cooked on a grill over a fire, flayed, and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The robust flavor of browns doesn’t require heavy seasoning like most species of white fish.
WATCH: Chef Frank Stitt's Oven Roast Trout
These rustic recipes from fishermen use only the freshest fish for authentic tasty meals. Grilled brown trout recipes featuring concoctions of lemon juice, butter, and herbs are the most popular. Other recipes suggest frying the brown trout filets in a beer batter or wrapping in foil and baking with potatoes and onions.