How to Pan Fry
Hedley's Rainbow Trout Fillets

Photos © Molly Watson

Pan frying is, perhaps, the most delicious way to cook rainbow trout. The coating protects the flesh from direct heat and helps keep the fish moist, while also providing a browned and crispy or crunchy crust. Yet, the method avoids the large amount of oil (not to mention the mess) required for deep frying. The steps here show how to do a full three-step coating, but the basic idea can also be used to simply coat the trout once with flour or pancake  or tea-bisk flour to improve browning.

Start With Fresh or Freshly Frozen Rainbow Fillets

Whether you catch and fillet your own fish or buy them from a fish counter, always cook with the highest quality, impeccably handled trout. Look for firm, uniformly textured flesh and a clean smell.
Fish should never smell fishy or have soft spots or bruising.


Set Up Breading/Coating Station

The most complete and thorough way to coat trout (or anything for pan frying) includes three steps: flour, egg, final coating of bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, cornmeal or a comlete coating such as Fish Crisp always available at Hedley's
  1. On your left, set up a plate, shallow bowl or tray with about 1 cup flour for every pound of trout and mix in 1/2 tsp. course salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper.
  2. In the center, thoroughly whisk 2 eggs for each pound of trout in a swallow bowl.
  3. On the right, prepare a large plate or tray with about 2 cups of bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, cornmeal, Fsh Crisp, or other coating.

Flour Fish Fillets

You can greatly reduce the need to rinse off your hands in the middle of the process if you use one hand for "wet" aspects of the breading process and the other for "dry" aspects.

Place a fillet on the flour, pat down, turn, and pat on the other side to thoroughly coat the fillet with t thin layer of flour. Shake off any excess flour.

For an extremely lightly coated fish, you can go directly to the last step:  Cooking Fillets.

Dip Fish Fillet In Egg

Dip trout fillet in egg mixture, turning as necessary to coat completely. Lift fillet out of egg and let any excess drip off.
Lay Fish In Crumbs

Lay fillet in the plate of crumbs or yellow corn meal or Fish Crisp (available at Hedley's Trout Farm)

In our kitchen we premix the fine yellow cornmeal with1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 or 2 tsp. course salt (optional) 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper (or lemon pepper) and keep it bagged in the cupboards siting right next to the pancake mix.
Coat Fish With Crumbs

Use dry hand to cover the trout fillets with crumbs or pat down and then turn over to coat other side – the method you use depends on how many bread crumbs or cornmeal you have and how well they are sticking to the fish.
Shake Off Any Excess

Lift fillet out of crumbs or cornmeal and gently shake off any excess coating. Loose particles falling off will burn in the bottom of a hot pan, thus leading to poorer oil quality
Coated Fish Fillets

Lay coated trout fillets in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray. The fillets can be coated, covered, and chilled up to several hours before cooking.
Cooking Fillets

Heat a large heavy pan over high heat. Once pan is hot, reduce heat to medium hot and add enough vegetable or peanut oil to thoroughly coat the pan. Add fillets to pan, being sure to leave space between fillets. Depending on fish and pan size you may be able to cook anywhere from one to four fillets at once. Fillets should sizzle the moment they touch the pan, if they don't remove them and wait for pan to get hotter.

Cook fillets until browned on one side, about 3 minutes, flip them over and cook until browned and the second side and fish is opaque and flaky in the center.

Remove fillets from pan and hold on a warm baking sheet or tray. Repeat with remaining fillets, adding additional vegetable oil between batches if necessary. Serve hot with wedges of lemon or the sauce of your choice.