Fish Recipes from MDIFW Staff

May 22, 2020 at 12:20 pm

By Fisheries Management Section Supervisor Joe Overlock, Director of Fisheries & Hatcheries Francis Brautigam, Wildlife Biologist Kendall Marden, and Holly Tremblay

After a day of fishing it is hard to beat going back to your house or camp and cooking your legal catch!

Some are reluctant to give trout, salmon, crappie, and other fish a try, but with the right recipe and proper post-catch care many are pleasantly surprised. Read on for a few favorite recipes from MDIFW staff including lemon grilled trout and salmon, smoked fish, curried crappie, and baked white fish.

You can learn more about how to clean and fillet a fish and how to care for your catch here.

Lemon Grilled Trout and Salmon

By Fisheries Management Section Supervisor Joe Overlock

This is my family’s go-to recipe for cooking trout and salmon, mainly because it is super easy and doesn’t create much mess. I gut my fish in the field and then bring them home with the head and tail intact (as is required by law). 

Trout or salmon
Pepper to taste

Step one: When you are ready to cook the fish, remove the head (and tail for fish larger than ~16 inches).  Preheat grill on low heat.

Step two: Place each fish on an individual piece of aluminum foil (usually about 24 inches long).  Place pads of butter and 3-5 lemon slices in the cavity and on the outside of the fish.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Step three: Wrap the foil into a pouch, taking care to roll the edges tightly so that the foil keeps most of the moisture inside.  Place the foil packets on a preheated grill on low heat.  Cook on the grill for 15-20 minutes for fish about 12-16 inches long or 20-25 minutes for fish about 16-22 inches long (total cook time may vary, so this may take a little experimenting to get it right for your grill). 

Once done, the flesh should flake easily with a fork and often the “rack” (spine and rib bones) can be easily separated from the meat.  Take care to remove any remaining bones (there are lots of small bones at each of the fins).  When you are done with the bone removal, wrap them all up in the foil and toss in the garbage. 

We love the flavor and simplicity of this method; and really love that there is no fishy smell in the house!

Smoked Trout and Salmon

By Director of Fisheries & Hatcheries Francis Brautigam

For folks with a smoker (will work with an oven too), this is a pretty good brine recipe to prepare fish for smoking:

For brining four pounds of trout/salmon fish fillets:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup salt
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
4 quarts water
Liquid smoke (only if using an oven)

Step one: Bring brine ingredients to a boil and simmer 5 minutes then place in plastic or glass bowl and cool brine

Step two: Add fillets to chilled brine and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours

Step three: Rinse fillets in clean water and pat dry. You can discard the brine.

Step four: Place on rack or sheet to air dry for 1 to 2 hours

Step five: Place on oiled racks and place in smoker and cook at temperature and duration specified by the smoker manufacturer. 

If you don’t have a smoker, you can process in your oven (set around 200° F), BUT make sure you add liquid smoke to your brine that will replace the flavoring from burning wood chips in a smoker.   

Curried Crappie

By Wildlife Biologist Kendall Marden

1lb of filets (firm white fish like crappie, pike, or white perch works best but would work with any)
2-3 tablespoons of red curry paste
1 egg
2 heaping tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic (or more depending on taste) finely minced or grated (or about ½ teaspoon of garlic powder)
Pinch (1/8 teaspoon) of ground ginger (or use about 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger)
Grate most of one lime peel and squeeze the juice in
¼ to ½ cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon each)
Optional - some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (by taste, not necessary but a good addition)

Step one: Put the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is mixed (if more chunks are desired, keep out 1/3 of the fish and add at the end and barely pulse).

Step two: Heat oil of choice in a frying pan (fairly high heat) and make desired sized cakes and fry until lightly browned on each side. 

This curried crappie recipe goes great with additional fresh cilantro on top, sour cream, or with a salad or rice. Enjoy!

Baked White Fish

By Holly Tremblay, wife of Fish Culturist Supervisor Stephan Tremblay

A favorite meal from the Tremblay family!

½ cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 white fish fillets
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Dash of Italian seasoning
¼ cup melted butter or margarine
Fresh lemon (optional)

Step one: Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Step two: In a separate bowl, combine the milk and salt for dredging, set aside.

Step three: In another bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients, mix well.

Step four: Dredge (or coat) the fish in the milk and salt mixture.

Step five: Press the fish into the dry mixture and then place on a cookie sheet or 13” x 9” glass pan.

Step six: Drizzle melted butter over the fish.

Step seven: Bake in a preheated oven until fish flakes off, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges (optional)! French fries make a great side.

The safe internal temperature for cooked fish is 145°F. Please review Maine's Freshwater Fish Consumption Advisory at