There’s nothing quite like preparing fresh trout for cooking. However, the ordeal of deboning a trout can be quite daunting to the inexperienced.
However, some trout bones are edible if prepared properly, but be careful as trout bones can get stuck in your throat.
Types of Bones in Trout
There are over 20 different types of bones in trout, but the most common ones are the ones we are interested in knowing about.
- Pin Bones: Pin bones are the bones most associated with trout filets. These are the little bones that peek through the flesh after you filet a fish. In fact, pin bones are not actually bones; despite the name, they are calcified ligaments of the fish. They are easily removed with a pair of tweezers.
- Spine: A trout’s spine is not similar to most of the mammals we eat. Trout have a hollow tube for a spinal cord.
- Skull: A trout’s skull is one of the hardest bones in its body. Most people do not eat the skull as it takes a lot of time and effort to make it edible due to its density.
- Ribs: It’s not common practice to eat trout ribs; most people spend countless hours trying to hone their skills of filleting trout, which means getting the most meat possible off the ribs.
- Hypural: The hypural is the large bone closest to the tail fin. Again this bone also takes a lot of time to make edible and is not really worth the effort.
Can you Eat Trout Bones?
Most bones in a trout can be eaten if properly prepared. However, most people are not interested in eating all the bones in a trout, nor do they have time to prepare them to be edible.
So we will look at the most common ways of preparing trout and determine if the bones can be eaten from the cooking method.
For the most part, baked trout will have unpalatable bones. The meat of the fish will cook long before the bones are tender enough to eat.
However, because the meat gets tender fast, it usually falls off the bone. If you are baking only the fillets, it might be a good idea to remove any pin bones before baking. This can be done with pliers or tweezers.
It’s possible to eat the boiled bones of a trout so long as they have been boiled for long enough.
This can be with or without the flesh of the fish. It’s worth noting though that there is little to no flavor in boiled trout bones, and it is not really worth the effort of preparing.
This is where things get interesting. Fried trout is a classic and one of the best methods for cooking trout if you want to eat the bones.
This can be pan-fried or deep-fried. However, if you want to eat the bones and the flesh, I find pan frying to be the best. This allows a little extra cooking which will help to crisp the bones.
Deep Fried Trout Bones
Now, if you want to eat only the bones, then deep frying is the better option. In fact, many people eat deep-fried trout bones. In Japan, fried trout bones are a common snack; see the recipe for deep-fried bones.
To make this, it’s best to leave a little extra flesh on the bones when fileting, even if it goes against everything you’ve been taught.
The flesh helps to add flavor to the bones and gives them extra crisp.
It’s challenging to add seasoning to just the bones, so we use the flesh to hold the seasoning.
When the fillets are off, choose your favorite seasoning or use our recipe, and season the bones well.
Drop the bones into pre-heated oil, about 375F, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Take the bones out and place on onto some kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.
It’s that simple, and I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
Dangers of Eating Trout Bones
There are no dangers in eating trout bones that are properly prepared. This means either getting them crispy enough that they break down when chewing or soft enough that they are used for a stock or broth.
Eating raw fish bones or undercooked fish bones can cause some minor issues, such as getting a bone lodged in your throat.
Removing Bones From Trout
For most methods of preparing trout, I recommend removing the bones. The only time I would leave them in is if I am baking a whole fish or making darnes.
Filets mostly have no bones except for pin bones. To remove these, use tweezers or pliers, as mentioned above.
With your tool of choice selected, slide your fingers across the fillet to feel for the bones if you cannot see them.
Once you locate a bone, gently bend the fillet, so the bone protrudes.
Grab as much of the bone as possible with the tweezers and gently pull the bone in the direction of the grain of fish.
Pulling against the grain will cause the flesh to tear.
Most trout bones are not edible or at least not worth the effort of preparing. However, deep-fried trout bones are not only edible but make for quite a tasty snack, and I recommend you try them at least once.
Rusty enjoys connecting food and nature and has done so since a child. He was fortunate enough to explore cuisine worldwide and work at great European restaurants. He now enjoys thinking up new recipes that he can find around him in nature in North America.