Seared Lake Trout with Shaved Corn and Bacon Chowder

This recipe comes from Chef Paul Olson of Mission Table. The recipe and story were originally published in the August 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Serves 6.

Lake Trout tips:

Native to the cold blue depths of the Great Lakes, this toothsome member of the char family is readily available at local fish markets, and its fatty orange flesh is favored by local chefs like Paul Olson for its delicious versatility. Here Olson shares two of his favorite grilling preparations.

Grilled Whole

Nothing says summer al fresco feast like a whole grilled fish laid out among vegetable sides. Source a 4–to–6 pound fresh whole gutted trout from your local fish monger, season it liberally inside and out with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stuff the cavity with a sliced lemon and onion along with some fresh sprigs of thyme and parsley. Tie the fish with kitchen twine or wrap it in foil and grill over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes per side.

The fillets can be pulled away from the bones tableside and served with fresh lemon wedges.

En Papillote

Lay a lake trout fillet on a large piece of aluminum foil, season liberally with salt and pepper, top with slices of lemon, fresh herbs like thyme, parsley or basil, thinly shaved fennel bulb and a splash of dry white wine. Seal the fillet in foil grill on medium high heat, 3 to 4 minutes per side.


Better Tasting Lake Trout in Northern Michigan


the stock

  • 6 corn cobs, kernels shaved off
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

the chowder

  • 18 fingerling potatoes, roasted and sliced in thirds
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces Plath’s bacon, medium dice
  • 3 stalks celery, small dice
  • 1 Spanish onion, small dice
  • 6 ears of sweet corn, shucked, silk removed and kernels shaved off cob
  • 3 ounces semi-dry riesling
  • 1 cup reserved corn stock
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3–5 dashes red Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

the trout

  • 6 lake trout fillets, trimmed and skinned, bloodline removed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon canola oil


For the stock

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes or until liquid reduces to eight ounces. Remove from heat, strain and set aside.

For the chowder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl season fingerling potatoes with salt and pepper, toss lightly with olive oil and transfer to a roasting pan. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes until tender; remove from oven and set aside to cool. Add cream to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; reduce to 1/2 cup and set aside. Heat a medium stock pot over medium heat, add bacon and render until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add celery and onion, and sauté until soft and translucent. Add shaved corn and riesling. When riesling is nearly evaporated add the reserved corn stock and cooked potatoes, simmer for 5 minutes then add reduced cream. Add Worcestershire, Tabasco, chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep chowder warm over low heat.

For the trout 

Blot trout fillets with paper towel and season liberally with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat canola oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium high heat until oil just starts to smoke. Add trout fillets to pan, non-skin side down, and sear to golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip fillets and sear an additional 3 to 4 minutes until they just start to flake easily with a knife. Remove fish from heat and rest for 2 minutes. Ladle warm corn chowder into shallow bowls and top seared fish. Serve immediately.