Pan Fried Trout with Barley Asparagus Risotto

  • serves 4
Michael Smith
Michael Smith Chef at Home

A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason, this is also an account of what happens when I make this dish, so you’ll understand each step. Of course when you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!

The time honored tradition of frying freshly caught trout in bacon fat over a campfire is alive and well in my kitchen. In particular, I like the fish with the earthy flavours of barley. This risotto-style cooking method of the grain coaxes out a rich and creamy texture that perfectly complements the fish.

23 Ratings
Directions for: Pan Fried Trout with Barley Asparagus Risotto



2 Tbsp of olive oil

2 onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup of barley

4 cup of chicken stock, simmering hot

2 bay leafs

8 spears of asparagus, sliced into half inch pieces


4 slices of bacon, chopped

2 Tbsp of flour

salt and pepper

2 whole trout, 1 pound each, cleaned and gutted



1. Preheat a thick-bottomed medium-sized saucepot over a medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions and cook until they soften and begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Because the garlic will burn quickly – long before the onions – it is always best to add it last. Add the barley and stir, coating it with the oil. Stir for 3 or 4 minutes. This will actually toast it a bit and add quite a rich flavour to the dish!

2. Add the bay leaf then slowly begin to add the hot stock while continuously stirring. As the stock is absorbed, add more, one ladle at a time – stirring continuously – until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes. This slow addition and constant stirring will coax the starches out of the barley and into the surrounding sauce-like liquid. If you run out of stock and the barley is still a bit crunchy you may use more stock or hot water.

3. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Add asparagus and stir well. Place a lid on the risotto and turn off the heat. Let rest until you are ready to serve. This will hold in the heat and allow the asparagus to cook through.


1. Fry the bacon in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until crisp and golden brown. This will render the fat from the bacon, which will then become the cooking fat for the trout. Remove the crisp bacon and reserve for another use.

2. Sprinkle the trout thoroughly with the flour, salt and pepper. Fry the trout in the bacon fat over medium-high heat for 8 minutes or so on each side. You may of course choose to fry the trout in vegetable oil, which is healthier but not quite as tasty!

See more: Vegetables, North American, Rice/Grain, Fish, Fry, Pork, Main, Dinner, Quick and Easy

More Recipes You'll Love