Food & Drink

Navarre-Style Trout

Serves 4

Make like Hemingway and fry fresh-caught fish stuffed with salty ham

Photo: Simon Bajada

“Just after the winter thaw, Basque fishermen make daytime trips to the riverbed, wading in the cool waters and catching trout with a rod, traditionally wrapping it in ferns to keep the skin moist,” says Marti Buckley, an Alabama-raised cook and writer living in San Sebastián, Spain, and author of the new cookbook Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise.

Buckley draws connections between the Basque region on the border of Spain and France and the foodways of her native South—a love of stream-caught fish, pigs fed on acorns, and a deep appreciation for both the outdoors and literature. “Ernest Hemingway wrote about trout fishing in nearby Navarre,” she says, “And this dish is so simple and romantic, it just makes you want to run off and be like him.”

A tip: “Moister, mild jamón Serrano is used in this recipe,” Buckley says. “But you could also use the more luxurious jamón Ibérico.”



    • 4 small trout (about 8 oz. each), cleaned and butterflied

    • Kosher salt

    • 6 slices Serrano ham

    • 2 tbsp. milk

    • All-purpose flour, for coating

    • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or lard


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Rinse the trout with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the interior generously with salt and place 1 slice of ham in each fish.

  3. Using a kitchen brush, paint each fish with a bit of milk. Mix the flour and a pinch of salt on a plate and dredge each trout in the flour to evenly coat, shaking off any excess.


  4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil or lard over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 slices ham and cook until its fat begins to render and its edges begin to approach crispiness. Remove and set aside. Add one or two trout to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, until the fish gains a bit of color. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat to cook the remaining fish.

  5. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Turn the fish and bake for 5 minutes more.

  6. Transfer the fish to a platter. Serve garnished with the reserved ham.

Excerpted from Basque Country by Marti Buckley (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018.