Grilling whole trout is one of the best ways to enjoy this fish, and trout that is grilled on a cedar plank is even better. A traditional way to cook a whole fish, originating with the fisherman of the Pacific Northwest, grilling on a piece of wood is a smart cooking a method, as you don't have to worry about flipping the fish or it falling apart on the grill.
This recipe will require a thin, clean, untreated cedar plank to set the fish on while they grill; you can find this at your supermarket or gourmet grocer. The smoke of the wood really enhances the flavor of the fish without overwhelming the delicate taste of the trout.
- Submerge the cedar plank in water for 1 hour. Preheat grill.
- Lightly coat inside and outside of each trout with olive oil. Season inside with salt and pepper and stuff with lemon slices and dill.
- Place soaked cedar plank on grill over direct medium heat. When cedar plank starts to smoke place fish on the plank. Grill for about 15 minutes or until the fish is done (reaching an internal temperature of 145 F). The flesh should be opaque and flake easily.
- Once cooked, remove from grill and serve.
Tips and Variations
If you have been apprehensive to cook a whole fish before, this is the perfect recipe to try out since once it is on the cedar plank you don't need to do anything with it. Just be sure to buy cleaned and gutted whole fish so you don't have to do any of the messy work. And, once you taste this recipe, you will wonder why you ever avoided whole fish!
It is much simpler to debone a whole fish after it is cooked. Make a slit under the tail at the base and carefully lift the tail up and slowly pull toward the head while using a knife to hold down the body of the fish. It is helpful to flip over the fish at some point to make sure it is being removed evenly. The skeleton should stay intact and easily lift out of the trout. When you reach the head, detach the whole bone structure—including head—from the body. You are left with two fillets in their skin; just keep an eye out for pin bones when eating the fish.
This trout is not only a fabulous dinner dish, but it also makes a great smoked fish appetizer or spread. To turn the fish into a spread, remove the bones and skin from the meat. Then break up the meat and mix with a bit of cream cheese until it has reached the desired consistency.