Grilled Whole Rainbow Trout

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Trout is a fish that has been popular in the Western part,of the U.S. ever since I can remember. Related to salmon, it has little resemblance either in taste or texture. Farmed rainbow trout are considered healthy to eat, which isn’t the case with many other varieties of farmed fish, however, some may find the taste of wild caught trout preferable.

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When grilled, the trout’s skin crisps nicely while the meat cooks flaky and flavorful.  One serving of trout boasts 19 grams of protein, which means your body will burn calories while digesting it. It also has a good dose of selenium, which acts as a vital antioxidant, protecting your DNA from free radical damage and promoting immune system health. Selenium is important for those who have thyroid deficiencies.

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Making trout on the grill can be tricky. Many people wrap it in foil to grill it, but to get a genuine smokey flavor, putting the fish on the barbecue grate is the way to do it. Of course, there are several dangers involved. One is that the coals will be too hot and burn the fish to a crisp. Not good. The other is that the fish will stick to the grate and tear apart when lifted off the grate’s surface. Not good either.

There are several steps that should be taken (and one sneaky trick) to ensure that the trout cooks up wonderfully.

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Steps to Making Grilled Trout Successfully:

1. Start with a clean grilling surface. Clean the grate with a scraper and wire brush, commonly sold as one utensil, to remove all dirt and particles.

2. Arrange the coals in the grill as if there were three chambers. Fill the two side chambers well, and leave the middle chamber empty, kind of like a dry river bed.

3. Oil up your fish. Not that it is competing in a body building competition, but you want to do everything you can to keep it from sticking. Brush olive or coconut oil on the surface of the skin. Line the opening with three pats of butter. You can also add lemon juice, parsley, dill, or other herbs and spices to the inside of the fish. It doesn’t matter if you use a whole filleted fish or a split fish with the spine still in,  both will grill in a matter of minutes on each side.

4. Make sure your coals are no longer flaming when you add the fish. Nice, white coals are what you are looking for. They need to be radiating heat, not torching the fish.

5. Here’s my trick: Place the fish in a large grill basket and set the basket on the grill grate. The basket provides an added layer of protection from the fish falling apart and dropping into the coals. If you oiled your fish well, it should flip over easily in the basket using a metal turner or spatula.

6.  Grill it quickly, about 7 minutes in each side. Don’t ever overcook fish. Just don’t.

7. If the skin isn’t crispy enough, toward the end of the cooking time, you can adjust the basket so it is positioned more directly over the flame.  Leave it over the direct heat source for no more than one minute on each side.

I served my grilled trout with a Brazilian style salad and a sweet potato, black bean and nopales salad. Not only was the fish tasty, but the bounty of colors and flavors made the plate look like a work of art.

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