Cleaning trout

One of the great things about our trip to Asheville was that we got some hands-on experience with a few parts of our trip. The biggie was definitely the Cooking Competition that we all participated in, but that's a story for another time. One of the first things that I did when I arrived was to go to a sustainable trout farm, Sunburst Trout Farm.

The first part of our visit to Sunburst was learning what it really means for a trout farm to be sustainable instead of a breeding ground for more diseases than trout. By and large, it's what you'd think: don't overpack the fish, keep predators away, keep things clean.

One of the things you might not expect is that water temperature is vital. The trout farm itself is on a hill with a lake above them and a stream below them, and they get a decent amount of cooling from the lake waters joining the river. If the weather is particularly uncooperative, then they break out the liquid oxygen. There's a huuuuge tank on property that helps to drop the temperature when it's needed. A lot of mischief could be made with that much liquid oxygen, and it's just the thing you need to help deal with a 2000-series terminator.

After feeding us a breakfast that consisted of about 40 things you can do with trout, all delicious (especially the biscuits and smoked trout sausage gravy), they let us don the garb of the trout cleaner and get to cleaning some trout. The traditional outfit is a hair-cap, apron, gloves, and boots. We all looked particularly sexy in the protective gear.

The first of us to remove the innards from the trout was Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. She may not fully appreciate this, but I did get a video of the process, and it teaches the important first lesson of cleaning trout: trout are slippery.

Jaden cleans trout from Brian Geiger on Vimeo.

Sadly, I couldn't get a good video of the machine that removes the spine from the trout. In general terms, it started out as a monorail for the emptied trout and gave us back two fillets minus a skeletal structure. Very impressive.

If you need farmed trout, talk to your fishmonger and ensure that the trout is farmed sustainably. There are a lot of things that can go badly with any farmed animal, so finding a reputable farm is important.