Can Steelhead Trout Be Eaten Raw?

Raw fish can have many health benefits, however, there’s some risk to eating raw fish depending on where you catch it and how you prepare it.

Freshwater fish species are more prone to carrying harmful pollutants and parasites which might cause more harm than good if you eat them. But, there are some species such as steelhead trout who start their life in freshwater then migrate to saltwater where they remain for the rest of their lives.

So, can steelhead trout be eaten raw? Steelhead trout can be eaten raw. It’s safe to eat steelhead trout raw because they’re saltwater species. The high levels of salt in the water will kill almost all the parasites in the fish that might make you sick if you consume them. Saltwater can also help preserve the fish, so it won’t rot as quickly.

Keep reading to learn what fish you can eat raw and how to prepare steelhead trout before eating it.

What Kind of Fish Is Safe to Eat Raw?

raw trout to show how can steelhead trout be eaten raw

The environment that the fish lives and feeds, whether it’s freshwater or saltwater, can have a significant effect on whether it can be eaten raw.

Freshwater species are always risky to eat raw. That’s because they’re prone to carrying parasites and bacteria that are more common in the waters they live in.

Saltwater fish, on the other hand, are less risky to eat raw. That’s because the high levels of salt in the water where they live can help kill any parasites or bacteria that might cause you to get sick. Saltwater fish also do not spoil as quickly because the salt helps in preserving them.

How to Kill Parasites in Raw Fish?

In order to make sure the fish you caught are safe to eat raw, you need to freeze them beforehand to ensure that any harmful parasites or bacteria are eliminated completely.

Simply refrigerating the fish might not be the most effective method to kill these parasites or bacteria. According to the FDA guidelines, you need to freeze and store the fish at a certain temperature, ideally -35°C or below, for at least 15 hours.

Are Steelhead Trout Good to Eat?

Steelhead trout are good to eat as long as they’re freshly caught and properly cleaned.

You can tell if the trout are fresh if their eyes are clear and their gills are bright. They would also be firm to the touch and have a natural slimy layer on their skin.

There are many health benefits to eating steelhead trout. They’re low in calories and rich in proteins as well as several other nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, Vitamin B, phosphorus, iodine, and iron.

For more on how to keep your trout good to eat raw, check out my guide to eating raw trout here.

What Does a Steelhead Trout Taste Like?

The way any fish tastes and the quality of its meat depends mainly on the environment where they live and what they feed on.

Steelhead trout live in saltwater and feed on saltwater baitfish. As a result, they have a mild flavor that’s very similar to that of salmon fish. Their meat is firm with orange-red hues.

Sometimes steelhead trout might have a muddy taste that makes it unpleasant to eat. To remove this muddy test, you can soak the fish in clean cold water and vinegar for over a day. You can also learn why does trout taste muddy here.

How to Clean a Steelhead Trout?

Whether you’re eating the steelhead trout raw or cooking it, you need to keep it fresh in a bucket of ice after landing it. You also need to clean the fish thoroughly to ensure it’s good to eat.

Here are some tips you can follow to clean your steelhead trout before you eat it:

  • After landing the fish, cut its gills to let it bleed out. This will remove the unpleasant flavors in the blood and preserve the good flavors in the meat.
  • Hold the steelhead trout with its belly facing up then use a knife to make a cut starting from its anal fins towards the head. Make sure to keep your blade shallow to avoid damaging the meat.
  • Spread the steelhead trout’s body open using pliers to remove the entrails then use an old toothbrush to clean the blood vein that runs along its spine. 
  • Rinse the steelhead trout thoroughly on the inside and outside using fresh water to wash out any remaining blood.
  • To fillet the steelhead trout, cut its head off just before the pectoral fin then cut across its tail on both sides and across the spine through the skeletal bones.
  • It’s recommended to remove the skin from the trout fish before cooking it, however, if you prefer to keep the skin you need to remove all the scales by scraping over the fish’s skin several times on both sides using a sharp knife.

Here is a simple video illustrating how to clean trout:

What Is the Best Way to Eat a Steelhead Trout?

There are many you can eat steelhead trout. Its meat is firm to handle being baked or fried without its flavor. You can also prepare it as sushi and eat it raw.

If you’re cooking steelhead trout, you can enhance its flavor and reduce its oiliness using butter and lemons. You can also serve it with potatoes and rice with added spices like garlic and herbs like dill and parsley.

If you’re eating the steelhead trout raw, you can enhance its flavor by leaving it to marinate in soy sauce and lemons. You can also serve it with other kinds of seafood like salt cockles or clams with added traditional sushi toppings such as wasabi paste, salmon roe, pickled ginger and shiso leaves.

Related Question

What Do Steelhead Trout Feed On?

Steelhead trout mainly feed on saltwater baitfish such as herring and sardines. They also feed on some crustaceans such as squid, crab, and shrimp. Steelhead trout’s diet is one of the main reasons they grow larger than other trout species. Their diet also affects how they taste and the quality of their meat.

What Happens If You Eat Raw Trout That’s Carrying Parasites?

If you eat raw trout that’s carrying parasites you might subjected to some illness with severe symptoms. These illnesses include food poisoning or stomach viruses and their symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. There is also the possibility of infection from some parasites that lead to severe intestinal problems.

Helpful Resources 

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (you can check the book on Amazon here)

Is Raw Seafood Safe To Eat?

Fish Poisoning

Is Eating Raw Fish Safe and Healthy?

Level Up your Trout Fishing

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