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"I Got My Whiskey" simple smoked trout with fennel and mustard rub

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Are you looking for a simple yet delicious meal to prepare tonight? Look no further than this smoked trout with fennel recipe!

With easy-to-follow steps and limited ingredients, this dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Whether it’s just your family or you’re hosting friends, everyone can appreciate the bold flavors found in this special entree.

smoked trout on a plate with vegetables

Trout is readily available, similar in appearance and texture, and just as easy to cook as salmon. Trout, especially steelhead tends to have a bit more flavor, which allows it to hold up well against spices with some bite including mustard seeds and the coarse black pepper.

raw trout unseasoned

recipe inspiration

Smoked Trout Ingredients

This recipe is as simple as they come. It's just fish, spice mix, and wood fire.

raw trout with spice seasonings on a tray

Smoked fish dry rub ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Black pepper coarse grain
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 tsp Aleppo Pepper

The spice rub I use is really coarse and grainy. I’m a texture guy, so I love using semi-crushed seeds and peppercorns especially when it comes to slow smoked meats and seafood which renders them moist and soft.

spices in a mortar being grinded with a pestle
I use a mortar and pestle to grind the spice seeds. It's easy to control level of coarseness with this approach. Pulsing a spice grinder is also effective. When all else fails just place the spices in plastic ziplock then use a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet to smash them .

The rub is actually pretty simple – coarse black pepper, kosher salt, crushed fennel seed, mustard seeds, and Aleppo peppers. Not only do these combined contribute to the wonderful flavor and texture, but visually they make the smoked trout pop; the red, black, and green from the Aleppo, black pepper, and fennel respectively present contrasting colors.

The Aleppo adds some sweetness that balances the peppery bite from the mustard seeds and peppercorns. Mustard and fennel seeds can be found in just about any spice section of most grocery stores. Aleppo pepper though it’s becoming more and more popular are still found primarily in spice shops or ethnic grocery stores.

For you Amazon shoppers Aleppo can be ordered online too. If it isn’t available to you you can recreate its flavor and smokiness by combining sweet smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. I’d use a 3:1 ratio as Aleppo doesn’t pack much heat.

Dried fennel adds a real distinct flavor and is hard to replicate with other herbs, however dried herbs like tarragon, basil, or oregano are effective in this rub.

Smoked trout with course dry rub
Smoked trout with course dry rub

Smoked Trout Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Most trout caught in the U.S. are rainbow trout, so not surprisingly it’s one of the more widely available trout at fish markets. Steelhead trout are pretty common as well. It’s flesh actually physically looks a lot like salmon, and there are some texture similarities as well. I prefer steelhead to rainbow in terms of smoking. Steelhead is a thicker, meatier fish that holds up well to the smoking.

Most hardwoods will work just fine. I tend to go for the milder ones such as any of those listed below as they enhance the natural flavor of the trout without overpowering. Stay away from mesquite and hickory as they’re much stronger in flavor and better for grilling.

  • Oak
  • Pecan
  • Fruit - apple, cherry, or pear

How do you keep fish skin from sticking to the grill?

Smoking at lower temperatures should protect you from the dreaded skin sticking to the grill grates. However, to take extra precaution wipe the grates down with an olive oil-stained paper towel or spray with non-stick spray. I actually use a seafood grill pan that I spray with a non-stick oil. If you ever find yourself grilling fish where skin sticking is highly likely, there are many more options to eliminate any chance of sticking.

Serving Suggestions

Sheet-pan green beans and potatoes make for a great pairing. A nice collard greens slaw is also a good fit. Zhoug sauce also goes well with grilled seafood.

Smoked Fish Expert Cooking/Meal Planning Tips

  • Let the trout reach room temperature before cooking
  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices. Otherwise using a hard surface pound them lightly with the blunt side of a hard object.
  • Buy quality fish! Not even a killer spice rub and big smoke can save bad ingredients
  • Use a grill pan for the fish and spray with oil beforehand. Grill pan helps to ensure the fish stays intact. If you don’t have a grill basket/fish pan use a big spatula.
  • Make sure your grates are clean before cooking the fish
  • This dish works well grilled too if you don’t have the time or want less smokiness. See Cedar Plank Grilled Trout recipe for a grilled example which is more of a high heat recipe.
  • Serve with sheet-pan green beans and potatoes and top with a cucumber sambal condiment.

Smoked Seafood Special Equipment Needs

I used a vegetable/seafood grill pan when making this recipe. It makes it easy to handle the fish and prevent separation/breakage when moving. Alternatively, you can use a wide spatula for a similar purpose. It's wide enough to easily move the fish while keeping it intact fully. I keep both on hand for those days when I'm grilling both fish and seafood and wish to keep them separate.

Seafood Grill Pan

seafood grill pan

Wide Spatula

wide spatula

For other well-seasoned, grill/smoker recipes try either of these recipes:

Start your compilation of steelhead trout recipes with this smoked version for an easy dinner. Pair it with grilled asparagus. And please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

Smoked trout with course dry rub

Smoked Trout

Simple, easy, and super flavorful smoked trout recipe which utilizes a course dry rub spice mix of fennel and mustard seeds to add color, flavor, and texture.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 3 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 207kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Equipment

  • grill pan
  • Grill/Smoker

Ingredients

  • 1 lb steelhead trout
  • 1 tablespoon oilive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper coarse grain
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare grill/smoker for indirect heat at 225 degrees.
  • Make rub by coarsely grinding the spices. Use a mortar and pestle, coffee/spice grinder, or just crack on a hard surface with a blunt object
  • Let trout reach room temperature. Brush with olive oil and then rub dry spice mix all over the fish.
  • Place fish skin side down in the smoker on an oil sprayed seafood pan. Alternatively use an oiled napkin and wipe on the grill grates to avoid the fish skin sticking.
  • Smoke for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check the internal temperature after an hour. 125 degrees is ideal for you to remove from the grill/smoker. This will help you avoid drying the fish out and as you allow it to rest the fish will eventually reach FDA level (140-145 degrees) doneness.

Notes

  • Salmon is a perfectly suitable alternative to trout.
  • Let the trout reach room temperature before cooking
  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices. Otherwise using a hard surface pound them lightly with the blunt side of a hard object.
  • Buy quality fish! Not even a killer spice rub and big smoke can save bad ingredients
  • Use a grill pan for the fish and spray with oil beforehand. Grill pan helps to ensure the fish stays intact. If you don’t have a grill basket/fish pan use a big spatula.
  • Make sure your grates are clean before cooking the fish
  • This dish works well grilled too if you don’t have the time or want less smokiness. See Cedar Plank Grilled Trout recipe for a grilled example which is more of a high heat recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 0g | Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 649mg | Potassium: 419mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 213IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




Kevin

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

Curious, what type of wood did you use or do you recommend? I’ve never smoked trout before but will be doing it tomorrow. My neighbor caught some yesterday so I’m looking to try something different with them, thanks for the recipe.

moopbrown

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

Kevin I've used both oak for the most part and it worked great. I've had a few people tell me they used pecan as well as apple and they were happy. The common denominator is they're all pretty mild woods. I'd suspect any fruit wood or hickory would work fine. Probably want to void a strong aromatic wood like mesquite.

ginphoria

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

This sounds delicious! Will definitely have to give this a try!

moopbrown

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

Thank you. And please let me know what you think once you've tried.

Prentice Frye

Friday 6th of July 2018

We made this over the 4th of July holiday. I prepared both salmon and steel-head trout. Even though salmon is a suitable alternative, the trout is by far the better choice. I'm so happy you guided me to give the trout a try. So far - I'm batting 1.000 with the Food Fidelity recipes. This one in particular was a huge hit with the entire family. Thanks!

moopbrown

Friday 6th of July 2018

I'm glad the entire family like it and nice to know that smoker is getting some use. Next up is a whole fish recipe!