Trout, Trout and More Trout — Poached in White Wine with Dill Sauce

| April 28, 2010 | 4 Comments

One thing we’ve learned about life is that it often unfolds in unexpected ways. Sunday at Hebo Lake on Mount Hebo was a gift. Sometimes expectations are met and exceeded. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Acting on a tip that the catch limits at Hebo Lake would be lifted because the U.S. Forest Service was going to drain and dredge the lake to make it deeper, we left Salem Saturday evening at about 9:00 PM to bunk overnight in the car so we could secure a prime spot to catch trout early in the morning. Oh, the things you miss when you rough it. Bathrooms and indoor plumbing top the list. Central heat and air are close seconds. Those mid-sleep intermissions for bladder relief involve everyone in the car getting up so you can locate shoes and a flashlight, wrestle with an air mattress that thinks you’re nine years old and want to have fun tumbling about in unexpected ways, and then trek to your cold, damp place of assuagement. 

But then there were also plusses to roughing it: The smell of cedar and Douglas fir in the breeze, the nearly full moon silhouetted against wispy clouds, the gentle patter of raindrops, the sound of the wind soughing through the pine needles. 

Hebo Lake (Photo courtesy of the Gatherum Family -


Previously our imagined thoughts of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s epic journey were romanticized snippets about their seeing much of America in its virgin state, meeting and learning from Native Americans, and checking out the value of the Louisiana Purchase for the American government. Last night, however, all we could think about was that they made the trip without toilet paper. Luckily, we remembered to stash a roll in one of our canvas tote bags, which also had a set of heavy sweatshirts in case it got too cold. 

We tumbled out of the car about 6:00 AM to find that the prime spots we had scouted were already taken. However, good fortune blessed us soon as two people took a coffee and breakfast break and vacated one of our favorite piers so we could settle in for 4 or 5 hours of bounteous fishing. Not willing to give up our prime spot, we had dragged our cooler, along with fishing gear and collapsible chairs, to the pier. 

The day unfolded magically. Neither of us has experienced reeling in a fish every 3 or 5 minutes. It never let up. Sometimes we would both cast and within minutes were simultaneously reeling them in. We fondly christened the 15-plus-incher “Mondo,” but soon we were also hauling in sons of Mondo. We didn’t bother to name the 12- to 14-inchers, as we were running out of names. 

Hebo Lake is at about 1600 feet on Mount Hebo just outside of Hebo, Oregon, in the Siuslaw National Forest (pron. sī-yew-slaw). The spring-fed lake is scarcely 2 acres and is home to some of the best-tasting trout in Oregon. 

Trout fishing is almost always good at Lake Hebo, but this week was special. In addition to the quotas that have been lifted until May 2, 2010, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had just stocked the lake with 2,500 more trout for a youth angling event on Saturday, April 24. Several hundred of those were trophy-sized. 

One of the surprise gifts of the day was spotting a young bald eagle soaring and landing in the top of one of the tall trees surrounding the lake. Next it swooped down, hit the water with a splash, and gracefully lifted a trout from the lake for its breakfast. The fish must have been one of the larger ones as it appeared that gaining altitude was slow and arduous for the eagle. For a few moments, we thought he/she was going to fly into us. What a sight! 

When we decided to eat our Tillamook Creamery Mountain Huckleberry and Strawberry yogurts for breakfast, we had to keep our fishing rods out of the water or else we would never get a break. Because we were in the beautiful outdoors on a beautiful day, the yogurt tasted a lot better than it usually does when we’re just sitting at home. Breakfast finished, we returned to fishing. Usually the danger when fishing is you get bored because you’re not catching anything. This time the opposite was true—we were in danger of getting bored hauling in fish after fish. The trout were going after just about everything we put on the hook: chartreuse power bait, red and yellow power bait, salad shrimp. The only things the trout didn’t seem to be interested in were worms. Oh, well… luckily we had a smorgasboard we could offer the Hebo Lake trout. And they were happy to snap it up. 

By mid-day, we had enough and yielded our fishing pier to a woman, her daughter and granddaughter. We gave them the rest of our salad shrimp to use for bait. When they asked us how we did, we opened our cooler and beamed proudly at the bounty of trout writhing inside. After a stop at the Hebo bait and tackle store to get more ice, we started home. On the drive, we were calling friends who we knew enjoyed trout to see if anybody wanted some. We had two takers and figured we had about 40 trout to share. We decided that we should invest in a food vacuum sealer and stopped at Walmart on the way home. It was a good thing, too, because once we got home and counted the trout, we had caught a whopping 61. The rest of the afternoon would be spent gutting, vacuum sealing and storing trout in our upright freezer. By the time we finished, we had enough trout to last us the rest of the year. 

We had set aside Mondo and Son of Mondo for dinner. Now it was time to figure out how to cook them. We’ve already done trout almondine and trout munière, and the idea of fried trout just didn’t sound appealing at all. Charles suggested poaching. Vic had previously steamed crabs in white wine with chopped parsley, carrots, thyme and celery and thought that might be a good method to poach the fish. Charles decided on simply prepared peas with pearl onions and boiled carrots as a side. And what about a sauce? Charles asked. Vic was already thinking of sour cream with dill and garlic seasoning. 

Well, the meal turned out pretty delectable and, thankfully, very easy to prepare after a long day of fishing. 

Trout poached in white wine with a sour cream and dill sauce.


Trout Poached in White Wine with Dill Sauce 

  1. 1 medium to large-sized rainbow trout weighing about 1 lb. (453 g.) or more
  2. 1 magnum (1.5 l) dry pinot gris or chardonnay
  3. 2 large carrots, peeled and cut coarsely
  4. 3 celery stalks, cut coarsely
  5. 1 large shallot, slicked into thin pieces
  6. 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons or 120 ml.)
  7. 3 cups (720 ml.) water
  8. 1 bunch of parsley, chopped coarsely
  9. 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) salt
  10. 7 black peppercorns
  11. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) dried thyme
  12. 1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced into thin discs and then slice the discs into half-moons
  13. 16 ounces (473 ml.) sour cream
  14. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) garlic seasoning
  15. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) dried dill
  16. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Mix together sour cream, dried dill and garlic seasoning in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready for serving.
  • In a large non-reactive pan or fish-poaching pan that will hold the entire trout, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add shallots and stir, cooking until they turn translucent.
  • Add chopped carrots, chopped celery and dried thyme and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add salt, peppercorns, water and wine, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn flame to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
  • Add chopped parsley and stir.
  • Add fish and cover pan, poaching five minutes before using large spatula to turn the fish over and poach the other side for five more minutes.
  • Remove fish to a platter and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to cool the fish to room temperature.
  • After fish has cooled, gently remove the skin from one side of the fish by using a knife to gently cut the skin at the tail and pull it toward the head. You’ll likely be able to get a small strip started before it breaks. Continue gently working your way toward the head until all of the skin on one side of the fish is removed.
  • Arrange the sliced cucumbers on the side of the fish so that they overlap each other like scales.
  • Sprinkle the fish with the chopped fresh dill.
  • Arrange cooked peas and carrots (recipe and instructions follow) and drizzle the sour cream dill sauce over the platter and serve.

Petite Peas and Pearl Onions 

  1. 2 cups (480 ml.) fresh or frozen petite peas
  2. 24 pearl onions, peeled
  3. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) butter
  4. Salt to taste
  • Blanch the onions in boiling water for no more than 1 minute.
  • Remove them to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.
  • Cut off the root end, and the outer skin should slip off.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) of the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and sauté while shaking the pan to lightly brown them, then remove to a small bowl.
  • If using fresh peas, steam them for about 3-5 minutes or until cooked to desired texture.
  • Add the onions, the remaining butter and salt to taste.

Braised Baby Carrots 

  1. Fresh carrots with stems on
  2. Sufficient chicken stock to cover carrots in a pan
  • Trim the stems to desired length and peel.
  • Bring the stock to a boil and add the carrots.
  • Braise until they easily slip off a toothpick when inserted in thickest part.

We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Merriman Wines 2008 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé from the Yamhill-Carlton District in the Northern Willamette Valley. 

“Dark pink. Tangerine and strawberry on the nose. Midweight, vaguely warm red berry flavors are nicely concentrated and supple, turning sweeter with air while maintaining good focus. Rich, fleshy and deep enough to stand up to rich fish or poultry dishes, even strong cheeses and salty cured meats.” 

Merriman Wines 

Bon appétit and Enjoy! 

— Charles and Vic

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Category: Seafood

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

Comments (4)

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  1. Marlene says:

    Congratulations on your catch. Your dinner sounds great. Marlene

  2. Charles says:

    Thank you Marlene!

  3. Kathy says:

    I have limited out before, but you two hit the jackpot! Everything sounds delicious, too.

  4. Tina Martin says:

    Thank you for sharing! And thank you for the olive over the eye, I think giving Mondo a bit more dignity:-)

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