Red trout

Utah red trout: Adapted from Bill Hufferd, chef-owner of Park City's Mustang Restaurant. Utah red trout is another name for rainbow trout. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

It was a fleeting moment when my fish, iridescent in the sunlight with candy-colored reds and golds that soon drained away, was pulled from his world to enter mine.

On buying and cooking trout

Look for trout that has a skin that's unblemished, with no stab marks or white spots or discoloration around the head and tail. Also, it should not have blotchy portions of skin. Those are symptoms of distress. If the uncooked meat is soft or translucent, it's too old.

When you handle the fish, the skin should feel slippery. Called a slime coat, it protects trout from parasites. Remove the backbone and the smaller pin bones, the ones that come out sideways.

Cook trout all the way through.

Sauteed trout fillets

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Note: This recipe is from chef Joe Saladyga, owner of Savoury Kitchen, a Park City, Utah, catering company. The wonderful essence of citrus comes through. Leave skin on the fillets because the fattier dark meat near the skin tastes delicious. Also, by leaving the skin on and pan searing, the fillet stays intact.

Ingredients:

½ cup each: chicken stock, fresh lime juice

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

4 boneless trout fillets, about 6 to 7 ounces each, skin on

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Coarsely ground pepper

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1. Pour chicken stock and lime juice into a small saucepan. Simmer until liquid is reduced to ½ cup, 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from the heat; whisk in cold butter bit by bit to form a sauce.

2. Brush the flesh side of each fish with ½ teaspoon canola oil. Season fillets with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Smear remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet. Heat over medium-high heat; when hot, add the trout, flesh side down. Cook, 45 seconds. Flip carefully; lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. (Or, flip the fillet and finish in a 350-degree oven, 8 minutes.)

4. Serve with the sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro.