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Why do you buy tilapia? [moved from Ontario board]

  • aser Jun 21, 2007 08:19 PM

I am curious, why do you guys buy tilapia?

Personally speaking, it's one of the blandest fishes on the market to my taste buds. Is it because of price? I know it's cheap and commonly available, you also have to realize that most tilapia grow in farmed ponds packed to the gills (pun intended).

I am not trying to get anyone on the defensive. Just interested in why tilapia is so popular.

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  1. I decided to go with tilapia for fish tacos because it's not a threatened species and it's farmed on land so the farming doesn't threaten wild fish populations. I was hoping for organic tilapia because it would be farmed more humanely, with less crowding in the pond, than regular farmed tilapia. And I'm not the biggest fish lover, so one person's "bland" is probably my "mild"--by the time it's battered, fried and doused in pico de gallo, I don't think it'll matter whether I used tilapia or shoe leather--it'll prolly be pretty darn good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TwinklyTerrapin

      In case your wondering farming fish "on land" is just as harmful to the environment as penning them in the ocean. They both carry a whole slew of problems.Technically speaking the best fish for the environment( and most humane) would be made out of tofu, but thats not much fun!

      1. re: phisherking

        The environmental impacts of inland raised fish can vary from positive to very negative. But tilapia can easily (in the technical sense) be raised sustainably and even with positive envivronmental impacts. Ocean and lake farmed fish can also be raised with no negative environmental impacts. It all depends on good policy, the implementation of such policy, and political will.

        1. re: phisherking

          Funny, I always called tillapia "the tofu of fish" since it has almost no flavor, and is in fact flavored w/whatever you season it with.

          1. re: phisherking

            So what would you have us eat? I'm sorry, but this drives me crazy. I try to be as conscientious a food consumer as I can reasonably be, but krikey! Humans need to eat, and I'm sorry, but I am not going to eat tofu every day.

            1. re: flourgirl

              Here! Here ! Flourgirl.

              We all need to relax a little bit. We are becoming so neurotic about everything.

        2. just curious, what would you suggest instead of tilapia? Just had some that we cooked (broiled) for dinner and would love alternative suggestions.

          8 Replies
          1. re: JamieK

            Instead of tilapia? The fish for people who don't like fish is catfish filet. 1) It has no fishy taste or smell. 2) It has no bones. Never. 3) It has no nasty scales as the fish is skinned. 4) It has a mild sweet flavor that combines well with a tangy fruit sauce like mango or pineapple, or a fresh tomato salsa. I dredge catfish in bread crumbs and bake it in a 425* oven until the crumbs are a little bit crispy, maybe around 20-25 minutes depending on size of pieces.

            1. re: Querencia

              Why would anyone not buy catfish then? Personally, I love it. Had some fried today!

              1. re: Querencia

                Don't like catfish. I've never had any that some relative of mine didn't catch, though, and it always tasted like mud.

                1. re: Querencia

                  Catfish???!!!! I completely disagree that it has no fishy taste or that is has a mild, sweet flavor.
                  I do think we all need to be aware of the fish we choose and whether it is caught, and populations maintained, in an environmentally responsible way. But I'm not sure that catfish is the answer. Just my opinion.

                2. re: JamieK

                  Orange roughy. A little more sturdy, still mild enough to take on other flavors well.
                  Sometimes I want that quality in a fish.
                  I was offered a nice Tilapia cevechice the other day, the Mexican homecook that made it did an awesome job with the flavors and I could taste the tilapia as well. Just the right amount of lime and cilantro to compliment not cover.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Perhaps you missed the previoius discussion on Orange Roughy. It is an endangered and very slow growing fish, with an average life span in the neighborhood of 80 years, and does not reproduce until nearly 20 years old.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      I did miss it. I wasn't aware about that with the OR.. Thanks I appreciate that you told me I'll need to do my own research now. I feel like I've been living under a rock sometimes.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        This might help with your research:

                        http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch...

                        I think there is some info on shrimp farming for mojoeater.

                3. Packed to gills with what?

                  I'm not sure that eating farmed fish will decrease demand on ocean stocks, but our ocean fish stocks and their habitats are in grave danger due to high and increasing demand and to destructive fishing methods. We need to start thinking.

                  Also, if you know how to cook fish, tilapia is not at all a bad choice.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Sam, I'm curious what you know about shrimp farming. I met someone who had worked one in Ecuador and came to the US to work on one here. He claimed that farming shrimp was more ecologically responsible, since the trawlers drag their nets through the ocean killing plants and other sea life as well as destroying reefs.

                    1. re: mojoeater

                      While on the subject of tilapia- is there any threat of mercury? My family eats it frequently just pan sauteed with a panko crust.

                      1. re: foodsnob14

                        Mr/Mrs/Ms Snob, tilapia should not pose mercury problems. They are not up the food chain predators that accumulate mercury.

                      2. re: mojoeater

                        mojo, while it is true that shrimpers can and do destroy shrimp habitats, coastal shrimp farming can and does destroy mangroves--a delicate and important ecosystem as well. I don't know a thing bout shrimp farming in the US, but at least there are no mangroves there. There are a series of difficult trade-offs attached to all production-environment decisions. Hopefully, consumers will more and more understand the issues and make wise choices--ones based on a global environmental view rather than on personal pocketbooks.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          As far as mangroves go, they are everywhere along Florida Gulf coast. I've got some in my backyard, in fact. Mangroves also grow along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, where a large portion of shrimp are harvested in the US.

                          1. re: Agent Orange

                            Shows you what I know! I just hit my head and said, "Douugwhh" a la Homer Simpson. I had no idea! But then my concern for mangroves does extend to the US.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              That's cool man. I'll keep on protecting the mangroves of the US Gulf Coast, and you can continue to support the mangroves of the Sunderbans , or whichever mangrove-endowed land you post from.

                              EDIT: I thought I had read that your "concern for mangroves does *not* extend do the US." I shall have to write something on-topic to ammend for my frivilous post.

                              Personally, I'm not a huge seafood fan and cannot tolerate overly-"fishy" flavor, so I like to cook with Tilapia and other mild fish. I tend to make flavorful sauces and salsas to accompany them to make up for their "blandness."

                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            The "organic" farmed shrimp I recently bought claims to hot be harming the mangroves. I'm suspicious by nature but this seems like my best shrimp option for now (would rather buy wild Canadian I guess - if I could get it!)
                            http://www.riomuchacho.com/html/shrim...

                          3. re: mojoeater

                            I try to avoid farmed foreign shrimp whenever possible. In order to get yield up, there's a lot of overuse of antibiotics during the production process in places like China and Thailand, which sets everyone up for more problems down the road because of the increased odds of other drug-resistant bugs down the road.

                            1. re: beachmouse

                              Shrimp and antibiotics? Reference?

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Google China shrimp and antibiotics, and you get a ton of links on past and ongoing problems. There have even been bans in Europe and Japan regarding Chinese shrimp because of that issue. Brief mention here:

                                http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi...

                          4. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            They're highly invasive species, causing the decline of many local fish populations.

                            They're farmed because of their tolerance to high stocking densities. Henec my "packed to the gills" description.

                            1. re: aser

                              It is true that they overwhelm any body of fresh water. Like kudzo. My bass are gone.

                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              My favorite easy way to do tilapia is lightly dredged in seasoned fine-ground cornmeal, fried in X-light OO. (It should be a bit crispy around the edges and nicely browned.) . Mix a little caper juice into some lemon juice and drizzle it on the fillets, sprinkle with capers. It really takes to the flavor of capers.

                            3. It's protein, it's healthy, it's relatively inexpensive and if you make a decent sauce, bland doesn't enter the picture.... Not everyone can afford wild salmon....

                              1. I buy the frozen sashimi grade (I think thats what it is) tilapia at the asian grocery store and I eat it raw. I don't let it thaw out though when I slice it, instead I slice it frozen and eat it quickly after I slice it. It's slightly sweet and is incredibly cheap to buy. I have never cooked with it though so I don't know how it tastes when its cooked

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                  Mmmmm....tilapia gellato!

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    it tastes yummy semi frozen!!!!

                                2. Jfood purchased some talapia the other night and thought it had a nice texture, was able to handle the grill and was enjoyed by all. It has joined the fish-rotation in casa jfood. Jfood seasoned with s&p som garlic and shallot pepper from Pennzey's. Couple of minutes on each side and onto theplate with roasted veggies and grilled corn. Great light and healthy meal for the jfoods.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: jfood

                                    jfood, is the Penzey's seasoning you mention the "Fox Point"? I'm nuts about that mix.

                                    1. re: PhoebeB

                                      Nope PB it's the shallot pepper blend.

                                      http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                      jfood uses this blend on chicken and fish. Love it.

                                      Enjoy big sprout.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I saw that in a recent catalogue, am making up an order right now and on your rec will order a bottle. I love the flavor of shallots.

                                        If you've never tried the Fox Point, do. I think they say it's their most popular seasoning blend and I can well believe it. Salt/shallots/chives/garlic/onion/green peppercorns. Very delicate, and what it does to a pork roast, tuna or chicken salad, almost any veggie, is hard to overstate.

                                        (Not a particularly "big" sprout (in spite of my love for lard/butter/bacon drippings); just an old one. My dad used to call my big brother "Sprout" so it has tender connotations for me.)

                                        1. re: PhoebeB

                                          will gladly pick up a Fox Point on my next trek to NYC. Thanks for the reco.

                                  2. tilapia is the chicken breast of the sea

                                    bland like chicken breast, but lends itself beautifully to many different flavours and cooking styles

                                    you either love it or hate it

                                    1. I like the prepared deep fried tilapia in oriental deli's,there great,I think there deep fried in peanut oil not sure.They will deep fry it for free at Ranch99 but I get poor to average quality fish at Ranch99 in our area for some reason the Tilapia are'nt too bad because they are popular for lunch and dinner pre-cooked.Thats the only way i've had it.Good price for it,I see it under a 1$ a pound at Hmart last week.Price of fish is mostly way overpriced should buy more Tilapia to cook at home.

                                      1. Here's a good site with different seafood listed on a scale of 'Good' to 'Avoid' based upon environmental destructiveness of fishing or farming practices: http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch... .

                                        What it says about tilapia is that US farmed is 'Best' to eat, Central America is 'Good,' and farmed tilapia from China or Taiwan is listed 'Avoid.'

                                        I was in Nicaragua on Lake Nicaragua for a while and off Isla Ometepe was a tilapia farm--an American company with Norwegian partnership (American market primarily though); there are actually many foreign privately owned tilapia farms all over Lake Nicaragua. There is very little governmental regulation on private exploitation of the lake and many are concerned that the introduction of foreign species to the freshwater lake will harm local fish populations. A few farms might be acceptable but without any regulation, it is easy to see how it can be hugely destructive blahblah you-know-the-drill. On Ometepe, everyone seemed to hate the farm and many said that the local wild fish, 'guapote' (a delicious white-fleshed fish that was the local specialty), was becoming harder to find. So, it's hard to say really. On a massive scale maybe the farming specifically hasn't yet totally destroyed the delicate ecology of the lake, but on a local scale, on Ometepe or anywhere near the lake, it was clearly a problem people were talking about and even the local fishermen were seeing changes in the abundance of native fishes.

                                        Anyway, sort of interesting to me. Lake Nicaragua is the only place where I've been in an area where I've seen local controversy and issues with any sort of fish farming so I was surprised to see that the Monterey Fish Watch listed CA tilapia as 'Good.' Makes you wonder how bad it has to get before it gets upgraded to 'Avoid.'

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TimeMachine

                                          Thanks for posting this - very interesting.

                                        2. Tilapia are my pets - I feed them croutons. My lake in the back yard is brimming with tilapia. They make neat little nests about 3 feet across and defend them fiercely. They are safe when they get to be about 2 pounds. The young'ens are wisked away by the ospreys and choked down by the blue herons. I can't eat my pets - so I make do with grouper.

                                          1. I don't buy tilapia for the taste, but rather for the fact that it makes the best eco-sense for the future. The chinese have for centuries been doing a closed-system Tilapia aquaculture based on a pond with the fish, ringed by mulberrys and silkworms and pigs. The pigs eat the mulberry berries in addition to their waste scrap, and their manure flows into the pond as part of the food source for tilapia. The silkworms also discretely poop into the system, along with producing a cash crop of silk. Tilapia has traditionally been used because of 2 main reasons in its biology: its high efficiency of conversion of food into flesh, and its ability to live as a crowded herd and thus offer the highest yield from the utilized space.

                                            Waste from these systems is the drawback, and that's where the political will and restraint comes in, by determining and then limiting the number of fish per unit of watershed to keep the effluent at sustainable levels. Some folks are also looking at aerobic digesters to reduce organics and nitrogen output into the streams, just like they are trying to do downstream from chicken farms, but hey somehow Tyson-Conagra doesn't want to raise the price of chicken by incorporating such digesters.

                                            But, Tilipia will be, and should be, in the future, based on its acceptable taste and high efficiency. As Sam F says above, "lake farmed fish can also be raised with no negative environmental impacts. It all depends on good policy, the implementation of such policy, and political will." Such policies will ask for a capped restraint of number of fish (= profit) per unit area, and that's where political will will come in.

                                            1. I live in a very small town in Iowa and decent fresh fish is a little hard to come by. A lot of fish isn't worth a hoot if you get it frozen--especially halibut, which we used to love when we lived in Oregon and could get it fresh from time to time. I've been able to get some pretty good frozen tilapia, which satisfies our desire for fish. And as someone mentioned, it's not an overly strong-flavored fish, so you can do about anything to it flavor-wise. I sometimes season it with five spice, and other times I use achiote verde and lime juice.

                                              1. Living in Hawaii I have trouble taking the idea of actually eating Tilapia seriously. Here it is a fish that will live anywhere, can tolerate the muddiest streams, the most nasty brackish backwater drainage ditches, etc. I try to tell myself, its like catfish... if you give it a chance to clean out, or if it is raised in a healthy environment....naw, I just can't do it. It is swimming in the stream outside my living room window, and I know what floats down that stream...... ugh

                                                19 Replies
                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  In 1961 when I was 11, we fished for tilapia in what was then a large stream/small river running through Kaneohe to the sea. We used long bamboo poles we bought up the Kam Highway a bit--sold for fishing. We ate the tilapia and the frogs we gigged at night from the same river. We also made spear guns and spears from metal coat hangers to get fish from Kaneohe Bay. Those were different times. There were still taro paddies in the area for poi making; and we went to Japanese movies a couple of times a week.

                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                    That's funny, because that's exactly how I feel about catfish. We used to catch them out of the water hazards at the golf course where my grandparents were caretakers.

                                                    What is the old name for tilapia? My dad told me that it's like orange roughy in that it got renamed when they decided to market it to folks like me, because the old name is unappetizing. But I forgot what he told me it was.

                                                    1. re: revsharkie

                                                      For the past 30 years at least it has been Tilapia here (tilap in pigeon), for a while they were going to market it as "sunfish", but apparently that never went anywhere.

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        "don't buy tilapia for the taste, but rather for the fact that it makes the best eco-sense for the future. The chinese have for centuries been doing a closed-system Tilapia aquaculture based on a pond with the fish, ringed by mulberrys and silkworms and pigs. The pigs eat the mulberry berries in addition to their waste scrap, and their manure flows into the pond as part of the food source for tilapia. The silkworms also discretely poop into the system, along with producing a cash crop of silk. Tilapia has traditionally been used because of 2 main reasons in its biology: its high efficiency of conversion of food into flesh, and its ability to live as a crowded herd and thus offer the highest yield from the utilized space."

                                                        While I have no problem accepting that the Chinese may have been using closed system aquaculture for centuries, I wonder if they really used tilapia for centuries, since they are African cichlids. I would rather think that they would use one of the several carp species indigenous to China, or some other locally available fish.

                                                        1. re: LRunkle

                                                          In Kenya and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa tilapia are prized as good eating fish. I grew up catching them on Lake Victoria and while I have no particular complaints about the taste or lack thereof of farmed fish her ein the US it doesn't hold a candle to the fresh wild fish we used to get back home.

                                                          Sadly, thanks to the introduction of nile perch, bass, and American crayfish, to many fresh water systems back home combined with commercial over-fishing and high levels of pollution, the fish is facing a major crisis in parts of east Africa and is getting harder and harder to find. A cousin of mine used to run a restuarant in Kisumu (the major Kenyan port on L. Victoria) and used to serve red snapper (froxen and shipped in from the coast over 800 miles away) because there was no fish to be had in the lake!

                                                          Anyway, the point is that farmed tilapia may well be bland 'chicken of the sea' (or more accurately 'chicken of the lake' as they are a freshwater species) but if you're lucky enough to have access to the real thing - fresh and caught wild in clean waters then you're in for a treat! :-)

                                                          1. re: AmarV

                                                            A big part of the problem on Lake Victoria is not so much pollution but that the non-native Nile perch have killed off most of the other fish species, including those that feed/fed on algae. The waters of the lake are rapidly moving towards eutrophication.

                                                            Your cousin in Kisumu couldn't get any of the Nile perch? Unfortunately or fortunately, it really is a good eating fish.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              You're right about the Nile Perch problem but it's my understanding that effluence from farms (nitrate-based fertilisers) and also industry (esp sugar refineries) is contributing to the problem.
                                                              My comment about no fish to be had in the Lake was somewhat exagerrated. There are fish in the Lake but finding them in the areas around Kisumu is difficult these days and most fish are brought in from the outer edges of the Winam Gulf. This shortage in local supply has led to a massive increase in price... to the point where it is cheaper for people in the catering industry to buy trucked in sea fish than Tilapia.
                                                              Nile Perch is available but is not really rated as a good eating fish by most Kenyans as once past a certain size (IMH about 30lbs or so) it gets oily - the more delicate Tilapia is theorefore preferred... which brings us back full-circle to the topic of the original post :-)

                                                              1. re: AmarV

                                                                A lake is a lake; and water flowing in from surrounding slopes always bring what is eroded and leached along the way. Inorganic (although P would probably be more important than N) and organic fertilizers contribute, but I don't know how much relative to native soil nutrient leaching. All soluble nutrients contribute to the florecence of plant life, which when too abundant leads to eutrophication if not controlled. Native fish depended on such nutrients reaching the waters in terms of the algae they consumed; and in doing so kept plant life low enough to prevent eutrophication. The exotic species don't feed on the plant life; and eutrophication is on the horizon.

                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  Thanks for the info... I guess I have some reading and research to do when I move back home next month! :-)

                                                      2. re: revsharkie

                                                        The funny thing is that the sweetest, whitest, freshest/least "fishy"-tasting seafood is the bottom feeders of the demersal group, the carnivores & scavengers: shrimp, lobster, flounder, sole, plaice, snapper, grouper, catfish. Go figure.

                                                        1. re: revsharkie

                                                          The first time I ever ate Tilapia was in a restaurant abroad (could have been in Israel) and it was called St. Peter's Fish there.
                                                          And I agree with you about catfish.....I have never had catfish where I could not detect some undertone of the taste of dirt. Blech.

                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                            The first time I ever ate Tilapia was in a restaurant abroad (could have been in Israel) and it was called St. Peter's Fish there.
                                                            And I agree with you about catfish.....I have never had catfish where I could not detect some undertone of the taste of dirt. Blech.

                                                            1. re: mshpook

                                                              My stars and garters, man, you can't be serious!!

                                                              I've never enjoyed fish--enjoyed few meals in my life, in fact-- more than at the Catfish Hut near Grapevine Lake (Dallas) back in the early 80s. We'd sail all afternoon and head for the Hut.

                                                              Heaping platters of lightly cornmeal battered/deep fried catfish served with their outstanding homemade tartar sauce, melt-in-the-mouth hushpuppies, crisp tangy coleslaw.

                                                              Have you ever eaten at one of these "All you can eat" farmed-catfish places in the South? I'm sure there are bad ones, but the good ones are about as good as it gets.
                                                              I assure you they made no money on our group.

                                                              1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                Couldn't agree more- for my money there isn't a whole lot out there that is better than catfish!

                                                                1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                  i am totally serious. but, i am also very sensitive to the taste of iodine in shrimp, and often will have to pass them up when others may be happily chowing down, so perhaps it is the same thing with catfish. i have wanted to like it.....especially when it is fried, but it just doesn't seem to happen for me.

                                                                  1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                    Farm raised Catfish is infinitely superior to the Catfish you catch.

                                                                    It is delicious, with great texture and flavor. The line caught Catfish always has that oily taste. The farmed is much cleaner and certainly tastier.

                                                                    1. re: Fleur

                                                                      I guess infinitely superior would, in this case, be defined as made tasteless - to fit the role of bland white fish most Americans desire. Kinda reminds me of the Long John Silver chain that had the logo, "Fish that doesn't taste like fish".

                                                                      While we're at it, let's get rid of that oily taste in O-toro hon-maguro, or bluefish, or salmon...

                                                                      1. re: Fleur

                                                                        I agree with you about the excellent texture and flavor of catfish, but "oily" is the last word I'd apply to any I've ever eaten. Maybe it depends on where it was caught.

                                                                        The only adjective that ever came to my head re: catfish is "gooood!!!

                                                                    2. re: mshpook

                                                                      That's exactly how I first had Tilapia - in Israel as St. Peter's Fish. I remember enjoying, as it was deep fried whole and served that way.

                                                                2. I eat it because I like it. You call it bland, and I call it delicate. I don't eat it too often because there are other other fish I prefer. It's also very adaptable -- including fried -- readily available, and is inexpensive.

                                                                  Simple enough.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Richard 16

                                                                    Exactly.

                                                                    1. re: Richard 16

                                                                      Here here....I heartily second.

                                                                      Tilapia goes well in any application and manner of cooking and is a wonderful fish for people to try who are trying to put more fish in a healthy diet because it isn't strongly flavored like salmon or really expensive. I tell my clients to season cornmeal and pan sear it in a little oil mixed with butter until crusty on the outside. I watched a 3-yr old devour a whole portion cooked like that whose mother said won't touch any fish except frozen fish sticks. Go figure.

                                                                      To each their own, I say.

                                                                    2. There's some irony in talking of catfish and tilapia as "tasteless" and bland. They are indeed tasteless and bland because we're farming them and feeding them stuff that is making them tasteless and bland!

                                                                      In the 70's, being stationed down in Mississippi, I had channel cat for the first time. I equated the oilyness and mudiness to the fresh water eels (Anago) I had as a kid in Japan, that we would pull out of the holes in the side of the rice paddies after they'd been flooded from the river water. The first time I had tilapia, it was the same - very muddy.

                                                                      Today, both have been bred into taste oblivion and are now considered bland white fish that can be made into anything you want. I'd give real money for a real line caught wild cat, (with stink bait - they love that stinky stuff), gutted and dredged whole in cornmeal and deep fat fried - crispy skin, and a really tasty fish. The closest I can get to that nowadays is a Vietnamese restaurant.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                        I grew up on catfish pulled out of all the little lakes around Dallas and from the stock ponds on my uncle's OK farm. (They are mean boogers! I never dared remove my own hook from one.)

                                                                        Maybe there's something wrong with my taste buds, but I loved catfish then and I love it still.

                                                                        1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                          Had catfish all my life, mostly caught from lakes and rivers, and though the fish of my youth had more of an earthy flavor it was never offensive to me. This may have been because it was always rolled in milk and egg and then cornmeal and fried, and I think I could eat socks if you did that to them... Nowadays I cook farmed catfish however I fancy, including baked and served with capers and beurre noir, and it's always good, but I still like it best fried.

                                                                          Back to the main topic, tilapia does need some help, I think. I usually cook it like small sole or sand dabs, just seasoning it and dredging in flour, then a quick sauté in butter and top with fresh salsa, maybe with some capers and fresh basil added. And why do I bother? Because it's about as cheap as fish gets, that's why, and as good frozen as not.

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                            >"This may have been because it was always rolled in milk and egg and then cornmeal and fried, and I think I could eat socks if you did that to them... "<

                                                                            Heehee. Well said. I never thought of the taste of catfish as anything but, well, the taste of catfish. There are lots of flavors worse than "earthy".

                                                                            The only fish we'd catch--usually from stocked cattle tanks-- that I loved better than cat was crappie. Haven't had any in years. I wonder if it's commercially marketed.

                                                                            Our other catches were sunfish & perch--also delicious but bony.

                                                                            1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                              Oh, crappie. I love crappie! We used to catch them on minnows out of the lake, and all the catfish we had were bullheads, which are the nastiest of the nasty mud-eating nasty things. There were a few channel cat but not enough to bother with.

                                                                              I don't know if you can buy crappie or not. But you can, if you're in the part of the world where crappie live, buy a fishing pole and a bucket of minnows.

                                                                              Crappie are hard to fillet because of all the bones, but you deal because they're so good. We always threw the perch and bluegills back. They're not big enough to bother with the pain in the neck factor involved in cleaning and filleting them. What we mostly caught and ate was largemouth bass.

                                                                              Now, maybe we're off the subject a little, but does anyone know why we soaked all this fish overnight in salt water before eating it? All I know is "that's the way we always did it," and that answer is unsatisfactory to my husband who seems to think I was raised by aliens.

                                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                Brining fish would toughen the flesh somewhat.

                                                                                1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                  Mother soaked catfish. It was supposed to reduce the muddy flavor.

                                                                                  1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                    Hmm. The only reasons I ever heard of for soaking fish in salt water were (1) to make it easier to scrape the scales off, (2) keep fresh for a few hours when you couldn't immed. cook or refrigerate. Then the salt water was rinsed off well before cooking.

                                                                                    We soak any salt-water fish we catch in clear water to remove some of the salt, and strong-tasting or oily fish like mackerel in seasoned (with something like Old Bay) milk or (better yet) buttermilk overnight in the fridg.

                                                                            2. re: applehome

                                                                              Used tilapia yesterday to round out at "frito misto di pesce" (Italian fish fry). Along with calamari, shrimp, scallops, zucchinni, herbs and garlic, it worked very well, standing up to the milk bath, the "drift" of seasoned flour and quick fry. I am concerned about the environmental impact of this choice, but not its taste appeal. And, yeah, I am a little worried about the arteries but, really, what is good to eat these days?

                                                                              1. re: LJS

                                                                                I don't buy it. Last time we did, it tasted like dirt. Yuck!

                                                                                1. re: twodales

                                                                                  I found the exact same thing the last time I bought it and I've been reluctant to give it another try. Did have some spicy grilled catfish the other day at a Cracker Barrell (road trip) and it was actually pretty good - less dirty than the last tilapia I bought for sure.

                                                                            3. Eating Well has a good article about why to buy/eat tilapia in the current issue (which is the August issue, I think.)

                                                                              1. Here's a general reply about what is considered "good" fish and what is considered "bad." So there's farming and overfishing to worry about, right? Mercury too. Sheesh. The bottom line is that this earth is overpopulated and we all need to eat, right? What are we supposed to do? By having those of us who can afford to be picky eat the right thing, are we really effecting change? What is the alternative to farmed fish? To ocean-caught fish? Isn't being an organic vegan elitist, too. I mean, who can really afford to turn down what's cheap and easily available? Anyway, no real answer, just some questions. Or perhaps the answer is to kind of try to go with the general flow without being a raging elitist while trying not to damage the environment in outrageous ways.