There’s nothing quite like the sensation of hitting the daily limit on speckled trout before you even feel like you’re fishing. It’s a moment of exhilaration followed quickly by lament that your day reeling in the catch has ended as quickly as it began.
Speckled trout, also known as spotted sea trout, are commonly found in coastal Louisiana waters. Many times I’ve gone out on the bays around Grand Isle’s barrier islands and found a fishing frenzy. From before I can even remember, my buddy Bret and I would sit in a boat and watch the masters—our fathers Jere and Uncle Bo—put us on more fish than we could handle. The secret, they explained, is to look for the birds diving into the water.
Armed with simple rods and a tackle box, we’d cast and reel until our arms got sore. Sometimes it would take all morning to haul in our limit, but occasionally, we’d be so thick in the sea trout that it would only take an hour or so. Even back then, as much as I enjoyed the fishing, my favorite part was eating the day’s catch. My dad showed me how to fillet them when I was young, so I learned early that there is responsibility involved with the sport. Pan-frying is my favorite way to cook speckled trout. Just a little oil in the pan, a nice egg wash, and batter are all you really need. Sometimes, I throw some ground pecans in the batter as well. Add a little chile-lemon oil, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a speckled treat.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1½ cups pecan pieces
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, such as Slap Ya Mama
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 4 (6-ounce) speckled trout fillets
- ½ cup pecan oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Garnish: chopped green onion
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over low heat. Add lemon zest and red pepper; cook about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer oil to bottle or jar, and set aside.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, combine pecans, ½ cup flour, and Cajun seasoning; pulse until smooth. Transfer pecan mixture to a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk milk and egg to combine. In a third shallow bowl, place remaining ¼ cup flour. Dredge trout fillets in flour, dip into milk mixture, and dredge in pecan mixture, coating all sides.
- In a large skillet, add pecan oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Add fillets, and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle infused oil over trout. Garnish with chopped green onion, if desired.