Pronunciation: [TROWT]

A large group of fishes belonging to the same family as salmon and whitefish. Though most trout are freshwater fish, some live in marine waters. When the first European settlers arrived in North America, trout were very abundant. By the late 1860s, however, a number of factors including overfishing and pollution caused the trout population to diminish drastically. By the end of the 19th century trout hatcheries—along with other prevention and regenerative measures taken to forestall the extinction of this delicious fish—were in existence. Today trout are plentiful and vary widely in appearance and size. In general, their flesh is firm-textured with medium to high fat content. Probably the best known of the freshwater species is the rainbow trout, which, though native to California, has been transplanted to many different countries and is now one of the most popular varieties in the world. Rainbow trout can grow to up to 50 pounds, but most commercially raised fish average around 8 ounces. Brook or speckled trout are small (6 to 8 inches long) but considered by many as the best eating. Other popular species include steelhead or salmon trout (a large—up to 35 pounds—subspecies of the rainbow trout), cutthroat trout and brown trout. Saltwater trout or sea trout species, which are generally available only on the East Coast, include gray trout, silver trout, spotted trout and white trout. Trout are available whole—fresh and frozen—and in fillets. They're most often fried but can also be poached, baked, steamed, grilled and broiled. Whole trout is often stuffed before being cooked. In addition to fresh and frozen, trout can also be found canned, smoked and kippered. See also fish.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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