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Whats the best fish for a first time fish eater?

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  • sierranevada May 22, 2005 04:28 PM

i have never had fish or seafood in my life and i am well over 20! i think its time to try some but i dont know what to buy or how to prepare it? any and all advice would be lovely

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  1. Actually, I suggest you try it at a halfway decent restaurant first - it's not "hard" to cook, but if you really have never eaten it before, you'll have no frame of reference at all! I happen to like fish slightly overdone by "proper" standards, but it's really easy to overcook it to the point where it's unpleasantly dry. And if you've never eaten it before, you probably don't want it noticeably underdone, either - the texture can be off-putting unless you like things like softly poached eggs. [shudder :) ] If you really want to make it at home, broiling is probably the most foolproof method, though pan frying is a close second if you're a not inexperienced cook in general. (Think of it as a fast cooking chicken breast!)

    As for which one, I'd suggest a mild white fish unless you like "gamier" land/air meats. Flounder, scrod, sole, halibut, etc. are all quite tasty and couldn't possibly overwhelm you. Snapper, sea bass and salmon are all slightly stronger tasting, in their own ways, without being at all "fishy." Definitely leave the bluefish and mackerel for at least the second foray. ;)

    2 Replies
    1. re: MikeG

      I'm with MikeG. Definitely try it at a restaurant first. Use Chowhound to find one of the better restaurants serving fish in your area, and go there.

      BTW, I don't mean any offense, but I find it amazing that one could live so long without ever trying fish of any sort! But fear not, it's wonderful stuff.

      1. re: MikeG

        Sole is probably the mildest. If it's a typical thin filet, simply fry as is, or dust with flour, and cook over low-medium heat. The important thing is don't overcook; just 5 minutes or so. If you cook it till it's a real brown, it will be overdone.

        Another possibility is swordfish. I wrap it in foil with a little butter, lemon and white wine (use your favorite herbs) and put in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes.

      2. You should probably start with a mild, friendly white fish such as halibut. The more uniform in size it is, the easier it is to cook--i.e., a fillet that's more or less the same thickness from end to end. You can get it with skin on one side, or no skin. If it has skin, you might want to broil it: place the fish, skin side down, on top of a shallow baking pan that you have lined with foil (this makes clean up much easier). Rub the fish with a little olive oil, or put a few dabs of butter here and there, then sprinkle on a little salt, pepper, and (if you have it) some paprika. Put the pan into your preheated broiler (or oven on broil setting) and leave it in a few minutes (how many will depend on thickness), or until the surface is lightly browned and the fish flakes when you stick a fork in it. Or, saute: mix together some flour and seasoning of your choice; dredge the fish in the flour mixture so it's lightly coated all over, then place in a pan in which you have melted butter, heated oil, or a combination of the two. (The flour helps to keep the fish from spattering in the oil, and makes a nice little outer crust.) Cook the fish in the butter/oil a few minutes per side (again, depends on thickness) or until each side is golden brown, then remove from pan and adjust seasoning as needed. Or: in a saucepan (must have a lid) large enough to hold your fish, heat enough court bouillon or fish stock to cover your fish entirely, until it boils. Turn off heat, place your fish in the hot broth, put the lid on, and leave it for about 20 minutes. The heat of the broth will cook the fish even with the heat off. Test the fish for doneness; if not done, let it stay longer (covered again) in the hot broth. If done, remove, and reduce the broth over medium high to high heat. Pour the reduction over the fish fillets. (You can also serve the fish on a bed of mesclun, pea sprouts, or other delicate greens; the heat of the fish and the reduction sauce will wilt them nicely.)

        1. try a nice chunk of salmon. you need about 6 oz. p.p. take a fairly deep frying pan and sauté some onions and garlic in a bit of butter. add white wine, a pinch of salt, white pepper and bring to a simmer. add your salmon and poach for a couple of minutes on one side. turn the salmon and poach for a couple more minutes. if you push on the salmon with your finger and it feels firm your fish will be cooked medium . that is the way you should eat wild salmon. serve with the salad of your choice.

          1. I'm gonna buck the "try white fish first" advice. I ate white fish my whole young life and hated it, even though it was well prepared by my grandmother, who made wonderful food in general. It was not until I'd had poached salmon once at a party when I was in a semi-vegetarian phase and there were no other choices that the world of fish-eating opened up to me. Now I love salmon, tuna, swordfish, and monkfish, although I still find most white fish to be too bland and mushy to not get my gag on. I do tend to like strong flavors generally, and like my steaks beefy and my chicken with dark meat, so it makes sense that the white fish was too bland for me.

            One of the regular dinners in my rotation is wild salmon filet (about 3/4 lb for two people), bought frozen from Trader Joe's, thawed overnight in the fridge, and then roasted in butter and shallots in a 375F oven, in accordance with a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Basically, you chop two shallots (or one small onion) finely, and preheat your oven. Put your 1/2 stick salted butter in your oven roasting pan (I like Pyrex for this recipe), put the pan into the oven until the butter is melted and beginning to foam, take the pan out, dump in the shallots, put the salmon directly into the butter, and roast for 10 minutes. You can flip the salmon over once if you want, but I generally don't, as I tend to be a fish klutz and break the filets this way. Serve hot, as cold fish is not for newbies, and serve sliced lemon wedges to squeeze over the salmon. Don't forget to spoon some of the buttery juices over the top of the salmon when serving. I serve this with steamed green beans with lemon butter--when I'm feeling carby, I also serve a whole wheat couscous pilaf made with butter-toasted almond slivers and sauteed onions.

            I like all of the fish recipes in Mark Bittman's cookbook generally.

            Another idea is to look at fish recipes in your favorite cookbook, and experiment based on your favorite flavorings, counting on them to ease you into the fish flavor and texture. Like lemon? Try lemon sole. Like tomato? Try some tuna or swordfish on the grill and serve it with marinara or roasted tomatoes.

            The oilier fishes (salmon, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, bluefish) tend to take teriyaki flavorings well, too, either marinated, basted on the grill, or poached. Last night I poached some salmon in a soy sauce/sherry/garlic/ginger/lemon juice sauce, and it came out quite nicely, and picked up a real ginger hit.

            I tend to buy my wild fish frozen at Trader Joe's, since I don't like the taste of fresh farmed fish (too watered down) and I don't like the price of fresh wild fish. If you're buying fresh fish for the first time and don't have a local small fishmonger, I think your best bet is to get to a Whole Foods, and let them give you a lesson in what to look for. It's worth it to buy the good stuff at first as a lesson in how it _should_ taste. Kind of hard to acquire the taste when the quality is substandard. Then later on, when you know you like fish, you can decide where to compromise.

            As a final note, all fish likes moist cooking, and tinfoil packets are a good way to cook fish filets and steaks while also infusing flavor (and cutting down on dishwashing). I do monkfish in tinfoil packets with salt, pepper, olive oil, slices of fennel, onion and lemon, and sprigs of rosemary or thyme for 10 minutes at 450F, and everything is lovely when it's done.

            1. I have to say, if I were going to eat fish for the first time I'd probably want one that was a little "meatier" than whitefish, but YMMV.

              Ahi tuna: get a 2x2x4 block, dip the four long sides in soy sauce and then in a mixture of black pepper (1 part), coriander (1 part) and sesame seeds (3 parts). Grill for one minute on each of the four long sides (leave the "ends" alone). It's meant to be rare in the centre.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I think this advice is right on.

                I come from a family that has significant food fears, and one of them is fish. I didn't have it until my mid-twenties and didn't look forward to eating fish until about five years after that. Now I love it all.

                The meatier fishes are better choices for the uninitiated, such as salmon, tuna, and swordfish. Personally, I recomend grilling swordfish over lump hardwood charcoal. But don't get it frozen from the supermarket.

                1. re: Steve S.

                  I too had fish fear. (I feel like we're in a twelve-step meeting here.) Actually, I had what a friend of mine calls "that Catholic fish thing." That means that my Bostonian Irish mother would cook the heck out of cod every Friday night of my childhood. I loved shellfish (lobster, mussels, Maine shrimp, and clams were big summer treats), but fish-fish, as we would say, was disgusting, like dry flaked cardboard fused into a fillet. That texture - monstrous.

                  I started to make my way into fish with tuna, either raw or black-and-blue. Lots of wasabi. Then I moved into salmon, with lots of mustard-dill sauce. Salmon cakes with lots of tartar sauce also helped, as well as fish and chips with plenty of tartar sauce. I'm still not a true fish-lover. Fish is never the thing I look for if I'm at a nice restaurant. But I do like tuna and salmon quite a lot, and I buy catfish sometimes, and even red snapper.

                  I still hate cod. And smelts still give me the creeps.

                  I would say that if, like me, your issue with fish is textural, the meatier fish would be a good starting point. If you don't like the smell or flavor of fish (that is, you don't like shellfish either), maybe some of the milder fish other have mentioned would be better. But in that case I would start with scallops, lobster or crabmeat. Scallops are hard to dislike - meaty texture, mild fresh flavor.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Das...that was a great list of suggestions about fish. I'm always bothered when I see these threads about people not liking fish cause it smells "fishy". As you and I know, fresh fish has no smell at all. Thanks for clearing that up for those not in the know.

                3. My friend recently got off the no-fish bandwagon. She was (luckily!) in Hawaii when she decided that she must finally partake in fish dishes (especially since I bemoan eating out with her, because she used to only order chicken).

                  For her, it was the texture more than anything that kept her away from fish in the first place. The concept of a "fishy taste" also was a deterent.

                  I'm not sure exactly what she started out eating (whatever fish are easily found in Hawaii?), but she does prefer the milder white fishes. Salmon still is too potent for her, although she does eat ahi (preferring it more cooked than raw). She also prefers her fish poached, steamed, or roasted. Especially in the former two preparations, the fish definitely stays moist and does not dry out. It also does not involve any fat, which she, in her peculiar (and annoying) diet that is devoid of all fun ingredients (like butter or oil), particularly likes. (She has not yet made the foray into shellfish, but I have hope yet!)

                  Personally, I love most fish, but I prefer mine poached or steamed, especially when I'm cooking it myself. For instance, cooking salmon any way but poaching stinks up my kitchen unbearably (and even with poaching, my roommate can come home hours later and say, "Yeah, you had salmon tonight". I also prefer my fish on the more delicate side (although I do like my steak and dark-meat chicken!), flaky and not terribly "meaty", and in cases like tuna and salmon, on the raw side. For me, fish should be fish, and not meat (if that makes any sense). Quality fish requires little in the way of laborious preparation. I like to let the fish shine through.

                  I think the biggest question is what has kept you from fish all these years? Texture, taste, smell, concept? Then make your decisions from there. Since you're trying out fish for the first time, I concur with opinions below of going to a good fishmonger or Whole Foods. Describe your previous aversions, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jacinthe

                    This comment isn't really directed at you, I was just reading yours when I decided to post!

                    I have to say that I know a lot of people who hate fish because it smells fishy or tastes fishy. While there are definitely fish that taste "fishier" than others -- salmon being one of the fishiest -- I can't help but think that people are not buying fresh fish. I used to absolutely hate fish because if it was frozen it was the fishiest-smelling stuff, and if it was fresh it smelled like, well, New Jersey, where we lived. So here are some tips for the original poster (OP):

                    1. If you can, go to a market that sells only fish and seafood. Don't go to your local fish counter at the grocery store unless you hear good things about it.

                    2. The fishmonger's shop ought to be as clean as a whistle. Yes, fish bleed, and there has to be a messy part but there ought not to be a "fish" smell in the shop, it should smell either clean or like seawater.

                    3. Fish should be stacked on ice, not on other fish. That's not to say that even great fishmongers (like Fish King in Glendale, CA) won't have fish stacked for popular cuts like salmon and Santa Barbara seabass, but you should ask for a cut that's on the bottom.

                    4. Ask to smell the fish. Put your nose about three inches from the fish. Fish at that distance ought to smell like the ocean or river, not like fish. Even salmon, which is "fishy", ought to have only a slight fishy smell. Whitefish like tilapia, butterfish, mahi-mahi and sea bass ought never, ever to smell like fish. If it smells overly fishy, don't buy it.

                    5. Get to know your fishmonger and ask him or her questions. A good fishmonger is a highly skilled worker and everyone likes to have their work appreciated. If you ask questions and ask to be guided, you can expect great advice. I've even been given recipes and told what rice to cook alongside the fish, something I associate much more with France than California.

                    6. Don't be afraid to try things. Yes, you'll have some disasters, but the successes will far outweigh them.

                    7. If the idea of removing bones scares you, ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. You may have to pay extra for it but he or she will do a much better job than you will. Remember that most whitefish have what are called "pin bones" that seem randomly placed in the fish. The fishmonger can usually take these out too, but the structural integrity of the fillet may suffer if he or she does -- invest in a pair of clean needle-nosed pliers for easy removal of pin bones.

                    8. If you live more than 15 minutes from your fishmonger, either bring a cooler with cold packs, or ask your fishmonger to give you a small bag of ice to keep the fish cold. When you get home, it goes on the bottom shelf of the fridge, on top of ice that gets changed every 12 hours. You should use the fish NO LATER than 24 hours after you buy it, ideally -- I usually stop at the fishmonger after work, take the fish straight home and cook it for dinner.

                    9. Don't overcook your fish. It's not as dense as meat and usually only takes a few minutes per side to be done, even poached.

                    10. Clean up your leftovers and wash your pans right after dinner. All fish, no matter how fresh it was when you bought it, ages gracelessly and the smell will put you off fish for weeks. Take out the trash as soon as you're done, especially if you have skin, bones or other residue. Also, make sure you prep your fish on a plastic cutting board -- you will never get the smell out of your wooden boards.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      These are all excellent points! A couple of follow-up points:

                      Definitely buy any fish last, as you are going home. You could get away with not doing this if you live in a colder climate, and the outside temp is below 35 - 40 degrees F.
                      Kept properly chilled, fresh fish should last 3 to 4 days... but it is definitely best to use it as soon as possible - unless you have a good relationship with your fishmonger you don't really know how long it has been in the shop...

                      Fish smell... if you ever have occasion to smell a whole atlantic salmon it should smell a bit like seawater mixed with cucumber or watermelon

                      Cooking time... the general rule is 8 to 10 minutes TOTAL per inch thickness

                      Bones... Will mostly be closer to the head, along the middle to upper part of the body. If you run your fingers down the fish you should be able to feel the line of bones... if you buy a pre-filleted peice of fish that has a "V" cut out of the front (with the point running towards the tail end) the bones have already been cut out.

                      For a nice starter fish try Marlin (if it is available in your local fish shop.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        I don't think that you can state point #1 strongly enough.

                        During the holidays I get more calls than usual from friends looking for cooking advice - it makes my Christmas bright to be asked for my help and opinion! But I was repeatedly shocked this year when I discovered that people who have grown up in this area didn't even know the local butchers and fishmongers. The odd part was that they would ask me how I'd found these purveyors and if they had just opened shop. Nope, most were here when these locals were kids but their mothers bought all their protein at the grocery store.

                        I did find myself getting a little antsy waiting in line at the butcher's on Dec. 24th. I kept looking around thinking 'this must be the irritation that devout followers feel during Christmas and Easter mass!' - sure I'm confident that my order got the extra care a regular deserves but we should also get some kind of express lane dedicated to year-round customers! : )

                    2. Agree on having it in a restaurant for the first time. Prepared/cooked might be best first, but also sushi, in rolls or plain with rice or just sashimi- tuna, yellowtail those tend to be the best forays into the cuisine.

                      That being said, sole is really mild, just broiled with seasoned breadcrumbs or blackened is good. Chilean seabass is also good blackened. Also agree with a previous poster on ahi tuna seared rare, but another idea for crusting is salt and peppercorns.

                      I'm really picky on my fish- can't stand fishy fish, even salmon. You might consider shellfish as well. I adore lobster and king crab legs... might steer clear of clams or mussels for a first go due to their texture... I can't handle the texture or taste of either.

                      Happy fishing!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        I was going to suggest shrimp tempura-- I loved shrimp (even the frozen, breaded kind) long before I liked fish. Now that I live within easy reach of fresh seafood, I love it all, but I think shrimp, especially breaded and fried, is easy to like, and is a good stepping stone to fish.

                      2. I was in a similar boat (hee hee) up until I had grouper on a cruise a few years ago, at 23 years old....yum!

                        Then I tried halibut, cod....all in restaurants, and loved them. I still can't stand salmon, though. It's a shame....

                        Since then, I've expanded to seared tuna steaks and tilapia at home. I still can't eat fish all the time (it is definitely an acquired taste this late in life), but every now and then, it's delicious!

                        In fact, I might recommend tilapia for a first-time fish-cooking-at-home experience. No fishy after-smell in your home, cooks beautifully and quickly, and is extremely mild. Plus, it's super-inexpensive!!! :)

                        1. From the mixed responses, it's clear that fish is quite a subjective thing. I like most types of fish, but have never liked swordfish or shark. Key is to buy fresh, cook w/in hours, and don't overcook.

                          My thoughts:

                          1. For your foray into fish, I agree that you should first try it at a decent restaurant. Ask for advice on your local board.

                          2. Another good option is to have a friend who is a competent seafood cook to introduce you. I would be flattered to cook for someone who is a fish virgin.

                          3. Don't be scared off by salmon. It's truly one of my faves. Now that I've had my first taste of wild salmon this season, I will never return to farm-raised. Wild is buttery, slightly sweet, and has a firm, meaty texture. Not as fake fish tasting as farm-raised.

                          4. If Chilean seabass wasn't so overfished and non-PC, that's what I would recommend for a first-timer. Better alternatives: halibut and cod. Balthazar cookbook has some nice seafood recipes. Ultimately, choose what is freshest and w/in your budget.

                          5. If you find that you like cooked seafood, venture into raw fish sushi, seafood carpaccio, Hawaiian poke, ceviche, and cooked whole fish w/ skin and bones (more flavor!). Fish cheeks are also tasty.

                          6. If you care about eating to support sustainability (the big thing where I live in CA) and learning more about those issues, then refer here...

                          Link: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

                          1. if you have an aquaintance who likes to fish tell them to prepape you a piece of freshly caught fish right out of the water
                            variety and type will not really be important

                            1. I think many of us around here first ate canned tuna when eating fish as a child.

                              Now, the difference between fresh tuna and canned tuna is amazing. I love fresh fish.

                              While I also agree with having it in a restaurant for the first time, here are some suggestions for fish to cook at home.

                              (1) Monkfish. It is not often offered in restaurants and is often even hard to find. The texture is firm and the flavor mild and with a hint of sweetness (sweet for fish anyway! not sugar sweet). Read more at http://www.zeuscat.com/andrew/persona...

                              (2) Halibut

                              (3) Scallops

                              (4) Shrimp

                              All can be prepared in a cooking sprayed pan (or oil) and garnished with butter and lemon.

                              Also, consider trying the fish in a dish that it is mixed with other flavors. Like a fish taco or something. A sweet mango/tomato salsa on halibut tastes really good, IMO. Maybe you'd like Oysters Rockefeller! There are THOUSANDS of recipes. I like the oysters buried in a rich Hollandaise sauce with spinach, teeny cubes of Serrano ham with bread crumbs and chives topping it.

                              1. We have a Farmers' Market in our town and a fresh fish market there. I tried their wild salmon (vs farm raised, usually w/ color added) and it was the best! We grill it and it almost has a creamy, in addition to meaty, texture. BUT, my favorite for a long time was their Haddock. I put it in a double boiler and steam it, or almost poach it, which is like cooking in boiling water. It is a very white fish and meaty. Since we're in Pa Dutch country, we put browned butter (just like in the Spoon Cookies) over it. My son says it makes the haddock taste like lobster. Anyway, very easy and healthy, if you forget the butter. ENJOY!!

                                1. i was raised by a catholic fish eating family on fridays and i hated fish until i moved to the ncarolina coast at 18. i grew to like shrimp and most recently oysters but they have to be steamed til they are almost shriveled up. i just tried red snapper on the grill with a little butter and lemon--then pesto when it is done. not fishy at all but expensive. the salmon is way too strong. grouper is also a good mild fish. also expensive. a red snapper and a grouper was 54.00 here.

                                  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the suggestion of going to a good restaurant. Cooking fish feels a little tricky at first, even if it's not, it is fairly easy to go wrong (mostly by overcooking), and the comments about needing to clean up afterward are exactly right. Find a restaurant, or at least a friend who really knows how to cook fish.

                                    Don't try tuna first. I know the people who eat lots of it swear that very rare tuna is best -- the way it is served at most restaurants-- but I think it is very off-putting, and it's not what you want for your first taste of fish.

                                    Salmon is great, it is one of the few fish that my teenagers actually really like.

                                    I love rainbow trout, but that may be partly dependent on having it cooked over a campfire, fresh from the river.

                                    Those plain white fish can be very boring, unless in the hands of a good cook.

                                    If you go to a good restaurant, most any fish will be good. Poached salmon, grilled anything, panfried crusted with breadcrumbs and herbs... oh yum.

                                    Then after you discover how much you like it, you can figure out how to cook it well at home.

                                    1. I would recommend CI's recipe for fish and chips. It came out in the last year or so. Everything is delicious fried. It is cod, which I find very mild and delicious, as well as readily available fresh. It is truly wonderful, and sadly one of the last recipes from a talented recipe author that died soon after.
                                      -Becca

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Becca Porter

                                        i was going to say this too but you beat me too it. if you can find a good place for fish 'n chips (harder than it sounds in the u.s.) this is the way to go if OP decides not to make it. nice crunchy crust surrounding a moist, boneless interior with some hot crispy fries (er chips) is yummy even to someone i know who hates fish (hates the bones and the fishiness).

                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          Fried fish is very tasty.

                                      2. FISH STICKS!!

                                        1. ?

                                          1. I'll toss in another vote for trying fish in a restaurant first. If you do decide to cook some at home for your first try, I'd actually avoid cooking it in the broiler. It's far too easy to overcook fish in a broiler, whereas cooking it in the oven or on the stove top will allow you more opportunity to keep an eye on how well done your fish is getting.

                                            Whatever you decide, good luck. Fish is a little tricky at first, but once you become familiar with the variety of flavors out there, you'll likely come to love it. Once you've had some cooked fish, run out and get some really good sashimi.

                                            1. All very mild in my opinion

                                              Mahi
                                              Swordfish
                                              Orange Roughy
                                              Lake Perch

                                              1. My daughter finally has expanded her choices of seafood. She's 20. I started her off with tilapia which is very mild tasting and she moved on to haddock, shrimp, clams. My next step is to have her try salmon. She's the only one in the family who doesn't love fish.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: AnneM

                                                  I think there are at least two personality types of eaters in the universe, those who want it mild to begin with (your daughter) and those who would wonder why anyone wanted to eat something without any taste like that, and would go for a more extreme version first (my sons). LOL. It probably has more to do with personality than with the actual taste of the food, which could be quite good either way, or in the middle.

                                                2. I would recommend halibut, sole or rainbow trout. All are very mild, and not overly "fishy". Personally, I love salmon, but I find it is one of those fish where people either love it or hate it. It has a wonderful texture, but many people don't care for it because it is a bit strong in flavor, aka what people refer to as a "fishy tasting fish", which is funny to me, because shouldn't fish taste fishy? But I have also known people who only like Salmon, and no other fish. So it's a personal thing for sure.

                                                  1. Although usually buffets have lower quality food, maybe an all-seafood buffet would be a good way to meet lots of different preparations of fish at once? That way if one or two don't meet you liking, you are neither stuck with them nor soured on all fish right away.

                                                    Otherwise, suggestions above are good. I would also suggest trying dishes that are not just a big lump of fish -- shrimp scampi over pasta, mahi mahi tacos, bouillabaisse, paella, etc. might be easier ways to start eating fish if you're not used to the texture.

                                                    1. Hmmm, as a newcomer to fish myself I would recommend buying tilapia filets from a reliable fresh fish monger and broiling them. Very popular and readily avail, tilapia filets are mild, already boneless, soft fish.

                                                      You can find plenty of recipes (link below) to make it a more exciting meal but if you are really after the experience of joining the world of fish eaters, try enjoying it simply prepared first.

                                                      Do you know anyone (friends, family) who can show you how to prepare it?

                                                      http://ag.arizona.edu/azaqua/ista/rec...

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        I mean no offense, but I think maybe tilapia would be a bad choice. I know many people consider it the least interesting of all fish filets. I've talked to at least three fish mongers about this. It's sorta becoming known for a kind of super-blandness that is somehow hard to dress up in any effective manner. And it's not a very tender texture, even when cooked properly. YMMV.

                                                        At least with flounder you have that wonderful delicacy and sweetness....

                                                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                          None taken uptown, I'm a fairly new to eating fish myself. As I said, I suggested Tilapia because it was my intro fish and remains a favorite. I enjoy the taste/texture.

                                                          Over the holiday I tried caviar for the first time and was surprised that I enjoyed it.

                                                          What I have learned is that FRESH fish is a remarkable thing and not all fish is served at the peak of fresh!

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            Always eat fresh fish. Frozen shrimp are good, though.

                                                          2. re: uptown jimmy

                                                            I think Tilapia is a good choice for someone who has tried fish and doesn't like it. I have friends who like Tilapia even though they don't like other kinds of fish. But I don't see any reason why a person who has never tried fish should be assumed to be one of those people.

                                                            1. re: Adrienne

                                                              It's cool. I'm just the kind of guy who exclaims aloud when surprised by something, like the ubiquity of Tilapia, and so many times I've found that folks piped up and agreed. Fish mongers, talented chefs, fellow shoppers, etc. It just seems so inherently boring.

                                                              I had developed the theory that it's a fish that's so easy to aquafarm and freeze palatably that it was sort of more readily available than it deserves. But hey! It ain't so bad. Beats chitterlings! :)

                                                          3. re: HillJ

                                                            Tilapia.....you eat tilapia....not to be mean or anything but...it is a garbage fish....they are farm raised often in pens containing human fecal waste and pumped full of antibotics. I would sugguest monkfish, cobia, or bluegill....I would recommend eating your shoe before eating Tilapia.

                                                            Bluegill aka pumpkinseed or any panfish species are very boney but once cleaned and skinned, I like to douse in olive oil and cook until it flakes from the bone. Once done I mix it into a mixture of egg, flour and spices and it makes a very delicious fish cake. Very sweet flavor.

                                                          4. Since you've never had fish or seafood, i would say skip the fish and go straight for scallops or shrimp(preferrably at a good restaurant) Make sure you're not allergic to shellfish first tho, you can't be too careful.

                                                            My favorite seafoods are
                                                            Shrimp
                                                            Scallops
                                                            Salmon
                                                            Crab
                                                            Mussels
                                                            Clams

                                                            1. Whatever you do, don't start out with frozen fish or you may never try it again. Get the freshest wild fish you can get. Alaskan halibut or salmon would be my choices.

                                                              1. My children loved fish and I was lucky that they would eat most all of it. In fact my youngest when he was in grade school made me a delightful deep fried orange roughy which was pretty good!

                                                                I would have a friend take me to a reputable restaurant that does alot of fish, not farmed, and that does seared Ahi well. M
                                                                My husband would not touch fish when I first met him, and I had him try my ahi steak when we were out. He loved it and couldnt' believe the texture and flavor.

                                                                The other fish would be grilled halibut with lemon. It too is meaty and mild. Then you must venture out and try sushi and sashimi!!! You will grow to love it!

                                                                1. I asked my Hubby, a chef, and his suggestion was rockfish or tilefish because they are sweeter. He said something about them eating crustaceans? I am a big fan of tilefish and it does have a sweet flavor. Plus it has these beautiful big white flakes. Tell us what you try and your impression of it...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: bolivianita

                                                                    Wow. Great point. Shellfish is so sweet, it sorta makes sense. Don't see those two varieties around here in the deep South, though.

                                                                  2. fried catfish

                                                                    1. Hands down skate or cobia or monkfish. Skate wing tastes like scallops and are very plentiful. Cobia is also called lemon fish for it's lemony flavor, monkfish look ugly but they are extremely tough to overcook with a great flavor prized by Italians.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Grendal

                                                                        I'd take you to a really good fish and chip shop. Some of them have 'tasting trays' where you can try small samples of cod/halibut/prawns/crab legs/oysters/mussels etc. The crispy batter and lemons juice and crispy chips are just the ticket IMO for a 'first timer'.
                                                                        A, again I point out, really good 'chippy' is a good place to start.
                                                                        It's easy to find the best 'chippy' around. Just ask some taxi drivers. And of course the habitants of Chowhound.