Did you know that the Brook Trout is the state fish of more states than any other sea-dweller in the United States? It’s true. The Brook Trout is the official state fish (and in some cases, the official freshwater fish or official cold water fish) of eight different states. These states include Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
This very popular fish is also known in some parts as the Eastern Brook Trout, Speckled Trout and Squaretail. Despite its official name, the Brook Trout is not actually a trout at all, but rather a char, a member of the salmon family. They tend to populate the eastern portion of North America and are most frequently found in the rivers, brooks, ponds and streams of the Appalachian Mountains region, though they can also be found as far west as Iowa. They’re also native to the maritime provinces of Canada, which include New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. Their numbers in the southern portion of the United States have been thinned out by the Rainbow Trout which is a competitor and sometimes predator of the Brook Trout.
Brook Trout prefer especially clean and clear waters, as they are highly vulnerable to environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, poor oxygenation and extreme pH levels1. They also tend to thrive in waters which have a faster current as opposed to more stagnant areas. When a Brook Trout gets hungry, it will usually seek out insects such as beetles, ants, and crickets, but will also look for an aquatic treat at times, with crayfish and and minnows being popular menu items.
The Brook Trout begins life in an interesting way. They take longer to hatch than many other fish, with some taking more than 100 days to come out of their shells. Before they hatch, their mothers bury them in shallow pits beneath the brook/stream floor. This is because if they’re left visible and vulnerable for even the smallest amount of time, the eggs can fall prey to a vast array of different predators, with even fellow Brook Trout making the list.
Once they’ve hatched and have taken on their adult appearance, there are some traits that make them instantly recognizable among other fish. For one thing, they do not possess the same white underside that most fish do. The Brook Trout is red on its underside and in the case of males who are looking to spawn, the undersides can take on a deeper red and sometimes orange color. The sides of a Brook Trout will usually be a dark green or brownish green and are highlighted by more lightly-colored speckles. In terms of size, a typical Brook Trout will grow to be about 20 inches long and weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of five pounds.
Though they are chars and not true trout, Brook Trout do have a white flesh with a somewhat mild taste and mild texture. They’re a great source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, so their nutritional value is not to be overlooked. As a fish that is often caught by fly fisherman looking to catch their dinner than by shoppers in grocery stores or seafood markets, Brook Trout are often prepared through simple and convenient means such as pan frying or smoking. In a moment, we’ll share a recipe with you that’s a bit more complex.
While their flavor is mild, it is somewhat stronger than what you’d expect to find in a typical trout and it is often said that the younger a Brook Trout is, the better it will taste and the more tender its texture will be. Now we’ll get to the sophisticated Brook Trout recipe we referred to in the previous paragraph. This recipe is courtesy of Don Pintabona and was found on FoodNetwork.com.
Brook Trout with Pecans, Lemons, and Parsley Brown Butter
Ingredients: 2 sticks of melted butter, six 10 ounce Brook Trout (boned and cleaned), 2 lemons, 1/2 cup peanut oil, 11/2 cups plus 2 tbsp chopped pecans, coarse salt and ground pepper, 11/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs, and 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves2.
1. Zest and juice both lemons, separating the juice and zest.
2. Mix the parsley, bread crumbs, and 11/2 cup pecans together on a plate.
3. Cut the Brook Trout open and carve each into 2 fillets.
4. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and then press both sides of the fillets into the mixture on the plate for coating.
5. Grease a baking sheet with peanut oil and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
6. Heat 3 tbsp of peanut oil in a saute pan and when it becomes hot, add in 6 of the trout fillets
7. When the coating becomes crisp, remove the fillets and replace with the remaining fillets.
8. Put all of the fillets onto the baking sheet and bake for around 7 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan until it starts to foam and turn brown. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, parsley, and remaining pecans. Don’t burn the butter, or the recipe will not come out as planned.
10. Place 2 fillets on 6 dinner plates and pour the butter mixture on top and sprinkle with lemon zest2.
1. Author Unavailable
2. Pintabona, Don
Brook Trout with Pecans, Lemons and Parsley Brown Butter