Sandy Alley: Lewis and Clark ate here

2014-08-13T00:15:00Z 2014-09-09T14:49:05Z Sandy Alley: Lewis and Clark ate hereBy SANDY ALLEY For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
August 13, 2014 12:15 am  • 

The first Montana trout ever cooked was probably at the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, fried on a campfire in a rusty pan with buffalo grease, and salt if they had any left.

Fortunately, we have more modern ways to cook trout — fried, grilled poached, baked, smoked and from a dry-fly fisherman’s opinion, released. I am a you-catch-gut-and-clean-them-I’ll-cook-’em fisherman.

Years ago, my husband would occasionally ice fish for trout with his ex-father-in-law, Floyd Dahl. They’d catch and clean, then drag the trout through some cornmeal and fry the trout in butter in a worn pan on top of an old Coleman stove. Completing the meal would be a bag of salad, Dorothy Lynch salad dressing, a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. Oh, and beer. Simple and delicious.

Saturday at home for lunch, we had a taste testing of three trout recipes. There is a difference in the taste of trout depending upon where they live and what they eat. We used farm-raised trout like you’d get in restaurants. They don’t taste too “fishy.” Trout that live in cold, clear water with lots of live things to eat tastes the best. Big lake trout are mushy and usually taste like a cross between moss and mud.

Our first-place recipes was this simple grilled trout recipe that came from a recipe I changed from

Grilled Mediterranean Trout in a Pouch


2 trout, filets

2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

6 T cold butter, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

6 sprigs fresh rosemary

6 slices of sun-dried tomato

1 T chopped rosemary

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, halved and thinly sliced

8 chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions: Place the sun dried tomatoes, half of the garlic, the chopped rosemary and half of the chopped basil onto a square of aluminum foil. Top with trout and salt and pepper. Top each filet with thin slices of butter, the other half of garlic, chopped rosemary, parsley, and basil, 3 rosemary sprigs and a few slices of lemon. Squeeze one of the remaining lemon slices over each fish. Top the filets with another sheet of aluminum foil. Be sure to wrap securely.

Place fish in the coals of a campfire or on a grill over a flame and cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your fish and the fire. Allow to cool for a few minutes before opening to serve.

Sunday for lunch we used up our leftover trout and made fish tacos. This is — without a doubt — the best fish taco sauce I’ve ever had or made. The herbs and spices are unique and create an incredible sauce for fish tacos, in taco salad or as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Wickedly Good Fish Taco Sauce

Makes about 1 cup


½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1 lime, cut in half

½ teaspoon cumin

1 tsp. dried onion

½ teaspoon dried dill weed

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder (I used regular chili)

1 hot pepper of your choice, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions: In a small bowl wisk together all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Spoon sauce over fish tacos.

Alley used to fish for bluegills and sun fish with her dad and five younger siblings at a small gravel pit ¾ of a mile from their farm in Northwest Iowa where she learned that talking would scare the fish away. If she fished with her husband today, he’d tell her the same thing.

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