Wild Steelhead from the Pacific Northwest

Wild Steelhead from the Pacific Northwest

These beautiful wild fish are being caught in the Quinault River, a 69-mile long river located on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. This river originates deep in the Olympic Mountains in the Olympic National Park. Our fish are coming from a special Native American Fishery. Right now we are getting this in fairly regularly and it is a really good value, and at this time it is the only Fresh Wild (salmon like) fish available.

Technically, the Steelhead is an ocean-going form of the Coastal rainbow trout. All of these fish hatch in gravel-bottomed, fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers and streams. Some stay in fresh water all their lives, and these fish are called rainbow trout. Those that migrate to the ocean are known as Steelhead, and they typically grow much larger than the rainbow trout that remain in fresh water.

Like salmon, steelhead return to their original hatching ground to spawn. They are able to spawn several times, each time separated by months, and make several spawning trips between fresh and salt water. The steelhead immature or young fish remain in the river for about a year before heading to sea.

Steelhead can reach up to 55 pounds in weight and 45 inches in length, though average size is much smaller. They are usually dark-olive in color, shading to silvery-white on the underside with a heavily speckled body and a pink to red stripe running along their sides. Young animals feed primarily on zooplankton. Adults feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish eggs, minnows, and other small fishes. Maximum age is about 11 years.


In principle, any recipe for rainbow trout should work well with Steelhead.  In practice, because Steelhead can become so much larger than most rainbow trout and develop fattier meat, recipes for salmon are the best model to follow.  Virtually any recipe for salmon works well for Steelhead.


Grilled Marinated Steelhead

2 large or 4 Steelhead fillets (approximately 1 lb total), skin removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed/pressed
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
Aluminum foil

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, dijon, and maple syrup until smooth.  Place the salmon on a deep plate (or in a sealable plastic bag) and pour the mixture on top, ensuring that all surfaces of the fish are coated.  Refrigerate for 3 hours, occasionally shifting the fish so that the marinade is absorbed evenly.  Prepare your grill.  Fold pieces of aluminum foil so that each piece of fish fits neatly atop each piece of foil.  Place the fish pieces on the grill, foil side down.  Cover the grill so that heat is distributed evenly around fish.  Cook until the meat feels firm to the touch.  (You may cut into a piece to ensure that it is done.)