As opposed to speckled trout–which, good though they are, are trout in name only–true trout are members of the salmon family. The varieties that come our way come from rivers both in North America (mostly west of the Continental Divide) and Russia. Some populations spend time in the Pacific Ocean, but others remain in the rivers where they were born.
Rainbow trout, steelhead trout, and salmon trout are all excellent fish for eating. In recent years, they have been raised in fish farms in the Northwest. They can grow to be as much as three feet long, but a two-footer would be considered a a big one. The ones that wind up on our tables are typically about a foot long or less.
Rainbow trout are so called for the iridescent colors of their scales. Its flesh is a medium tan color and very firm and dense. It also carries enough fat to have a great, rich taste–although not one what is liked by unfortunately eaters who have not developed a taste for the flavors of fish.
Rainbow trout are the same species as steelhead, salmon trout and a few other varieties. The differences are just those of location, which does have an effect on the look and the taste. They’re all great for grilling or broiling.
Because of the local fame of the speckled trout, not many restaurants serve the very freshwater trout. They’re just too different not to cause problems. However, one restaurant–Zea–has managed to make a specialty of farm-raised freshwater trout.