I was out of town the other day doing errands, when I decided to make a quick stop at Trader Joe’s. It’s been many months since I visited a TJs and there always seems to be new stuff when I go. This time I noticed the frozen seafood offerings were kind of slim. However I couldn’t resist grabbing a pound of frozen rainbow trout fillets for $7. With a price like that I could have found quite the steal…or could be heading for major disappointment.
Product And Packaging
Trader Joe’s is famously tight lipped about their suppliers and I knew that going in. I would be hard pressed to find out who supplied this farm-raised rainbow trout. All I really know is that it is a product of Chile and like all farmed salmonids, color has been added to their feed to give them a more natural color. Now, considering the price, this could be some pretty rough trout. But considering they are under the Trader Joe’s label, they may have a higher quality than you would assume from the price point.
That being said, I’m usually picky about farmed fish. The inexpensive products tend to be on the thin side, not a very good meat-to-skin ratio. These were no different. However rainbow trout are not a large fish to begin with, unlike their steelhead relatives. The fillets looked to be in good shape after thawing, some flesh damage is expected with such thin pieces. The skin also looked bright and intact. I think that Trader Joe’s standards means you may be getting cheap fillets, but they are the best of the cheap fillets.
Recipe: Rainbow Trout Baked With Lemon And Herbs
If you follow my Instagram you’ll notice I did a similar recipe using cod and potatoes recently. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from the lovely ladies over at America’s Test Kitchen, one of my favorite shows.
- 1lb Skin-on Rainbow Trout Fillets
- 1/2 stick of good Butter
- 2 small Lemons, zested and sliced
- Fresh Dill, or other herbs like Parsley
- Salt and Pepper
Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and remove rainbow trout fillets from package. Rinse (I always rinse fish – I worked on wharves) and pat dry. Season well with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Place sprigs of dill on fish and then cut up butter and place on top. Finally place lemon slices over all. Cook for about 10-12 minutes.
They were definitely done after 12 minutes, any longer and they would be over cooked. I served them with some TJs Cauliflower Gnocchi with sage butter and some steamed frozen asparagus.
The Verdict On Trader Joe’s Rainbow Trout Fillets
Well…it was OK. The trout fillets were real thin so it was hard to separate from the skin. A couple bites were strong but the rest was very mild and had a nice taste of lemon and dill. If you are not a fan of fish skin, these might be too thin for you. Altogether it was an easy and good, but not great, weeknight dinner. I must admit I enjoyed it more than my wife, who does not like fish skin. In the end it came down to my main criticism of inexpensive farmed fish: small and/or thin fillets. If it were up to me, Trader Joe’s should charge a buck or two more and offer a better, perhaps even domestic, trout fillet. I think next time I’ll splurge and spend a bit more for thicker fillets of rainbow trout or steelhead.