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Blue Marlin, does it taste like any other fish? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

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  • Rick Feb 27, 2008 10:23 AM
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They had Blue Marlin at the store For $10/lb and the guy behind the counter couldn't tell me if it tastes like anything else or not. I bought some catfish for dinner and didn't really need the blue marling too though now I'm very curious. Has anyone out there had it before?

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  1. I've never had marlin, but I believe it has firm and dense flesh and is somewhat similar to tuna.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lmoy

      lmoy is precisely right. it's quite similar to ahi, but the flavor is a bit stronger.

    2. Its pretty damn amazing. I've only had it at this Mariscos Truck and Restaurant in San Diego. Its smoked and a speciality of Baja California Sur and Sinaloa. Best can be described as fish carnitas. Delicious!

      1. I have had blue marlin and white marlin that had been smoked. Has a good taste, but it did not taste like tuna to me. I would recommend trying it if you can find good smoked marlin.

        1. Marlin Poke, not sure what to compare it with, but it was oh so good. Whenever I go to Hawaii, I make sure to have some.

          1. I've had quite a bit of striped and some blue marlin. When raw, as others have said it has a firm texture and tastes like tuna. Because it spends it's life in warmer water, it doesn't develop the fat content as some tuna does..and can be a little "chewy." A few days on ice will mellow it out some. We enjoyed quite a bit of marlin sashimi recently.

            It's sometimes cut into steaks..grilled. Tastes like a tougher version of swordfish. I don't personally care for it. It also sometimes pounded thin like veal and sauteed..not bad.

            Smoked marlin is tasty....wouldn't say like tuna; but I prefer it smoked and shredded..not left in chunks.

            Here's a striped that fed a lot of people...caution..some pics are graphic

            http://flickr.com/photos/61246842@N00...

            10 Replies
            1. re: 9lives

              Thanks 9lives, swordfish and shark are about the only fish that I don't care for.

              1. re: Rick

                Shark is probably the closest to cooked marlin..taste/texture wise. I didn't mention it because i don't like it either and didn't think of it.

                If you don't like shark, you probably won't like marlin.

                1. re: Rick

                  Blue marlin does not have the acid-bitter taste of shark.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I've eaten some mako shark and didn't pick up a bitter taste..just don't care for the texture..sort of like swordfish..but tougher.

                    I'm in New England, and don't think I've seen either fish served raw..blue marlin rarely (marlin is mostly a sportfish..and released..not sure of all the legalities about interstate transport, etc)

                    I know sword has a lot of parasites. Is sword or shark commonly served raw in other parts of the world?

                    The marlin; served raw was primo...cooking (except smoking which I didn't do this trip) did not improve it.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      with shark it is not acid -bitter i hate to say it but it is more of a sour urine thing

                      1. re: foodperv

                        "Sharks must be bled and iced immediately upon capture. The shark's blood contains urea, a compound that helps maintain the animal's body fluids. After the shark dies, bacteria break the urea down to ammonia, which can impart an off-taste to the meat. Do not use shark meat that smells strongly of ammonia."

                        Bleeding the shark is more easily said than done and extreme caution shoud be used..:)

                        Blood urea nitrogen..here's a piece that explains it a little.

                        http://www.ocean.udel.edu/mas/seafood...

                        1. re: 9lives

                          It also helps to brine shark before cooking.

                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                            anything special in a shark brine?

                            1. re: foodperv

                              No just brine it in salt water like you would brine any other meat. Nothing to it. :)

                        2. re: foodperv

                          Right. I fought in a 370 lb great white off of Malindi, Kenya, long ago. The Captain gave it to local villagers. The taste was acid-bitter--maybe urine. I don't drink that much urine, so don't really know.

                  2. The general category of blue water billfishing includes sailfish, swordfish, and marlin. Sailfish, with the smallest mouth and the largest dorsal fin, are the lucky ones that are (nearly) always caught, photographed, and released. Swordfish are practically never released and are usually consigned to the boat captain, as are bluefin tuna, even on fishing charter boats. Marlin, usually a pacific catch, are a bit of an anomaly. Way too often they are hooked hours away from sanitary, refrigerated handling and processing facilities and are subsequently "smoked" to hide a masquerade of sins, just prior to spoiling. The sickest I have ever been was after eating smoked marlin in Mazatlan. I felt like I would have had to get much better just to die.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      Thats terrible about your smoked marlin experience in mexico. We found a place in San Diego that makes them as tacos and they couldnt be more delicious.

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        KR, I had maybe 5 or 7 perfect experiences with smoked marlin, so I certainly don't want to deter the adventurous; but I want to emphasize that low-level risks are part and parcel to experimentation with exotic foreign food. I still have a pulse and I plunge head first. Thanks, KR, for letting me try to better articulate the balance of risks and rewards when eating in unfamiliar territory.

                      2. re: Veggo

                        poor and inaccurate info

                        1. re: 9lives

                          I live in Southeast Louisiana and am an avid offshore angler. We catch blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish and Atlantic sailfish often and spearfish occasionally. Not sure what is being called exotic foreign food. Not sure what is meant by marlin usually being a Pacific catch either. Multiple hookups and landings of Atlantic blue marlin are common here. Two to six landed a day on one boat is not that uncommon here. Large bluefin come through in the summer and yellowfin, blackfin, bigeye, skipjack and other tuna are very common here especially this time of year at the midnight lump out of South Pass. Marlin are almost always released since it is too much trouble to tow them in. Swordfish are always kept to eat, though the angler catching them, not the captain usually takes the fish home while usually sharing some of the catch with the others on the boat. Shark is great when it is fresh, but can quickly develop an astringent quality if not cleaned immediately and eaten soon after capture.

                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                            Southwest Pass for the above, though you can get there from South Pass too.

                            1. re: MIKELOCK34

                              I've caught blue and white marlin about 100 miles E of Cape Cod in the Gulf Stream..late summer catch. Always released. Swordfish are taken too but not as often..kept.

                              Blue/white marlin are common in the Caribbean..and south..and all along the East Coast of the US. They tend to like warmer water..so sometimes it's can be a long run to the Gulf Stream.

                              Loads of sailfish in S Florida and points south.

                      3. Marlin jerky is fairly plentiful in Hawai'i, and I've occasionally had marlin poke and marlin steak. I'd say the best comparison would be to swordfish, but swordfish has a more delicate flavor and texture.

                        Regardless of flavor, billfish grow slowly and are at or near the top of the food chain. So they can't be fished sustainably and have a lot of toxins in their flesh. IMHO responsible fishermen release them when possible, although the occasional fish can't be revived and has to be harvested. But unless you know the provenenance of your marlin, consider whether it's a good idea to buy the meat.

                        Especially given that it isn't the tastiest fish you're ever going to eat. Sportfishing boats in Hawai'i sell their catch to local fish brokers, and the captains I've chartered with have all indicated that the demand--and thus the market price--for marlin is much lower than for ahi, mahi mahi, ono, or nearly any other fish. (Which may be one reason that they're so willing to tag and release the marlin.)

                        Long and short, marlin is not to be sought after, but if you're comfortable with the source and get a good price, there's nothing wrong with eating it occasionally.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          There is no reason to not seek out marlin. It is indeed a sustainable resource in some places where it is fished commercially. The ban on marlin as a bycatch in the Northern Gulf of Mexico has only led to the fish being killed by long liners when they catch them here and then being dropped overboard as waste since releasing the fish alive will only have them take another bait on the line. That waste is very silly and is not necessary. There is no agency that has enforcable jurisdiction in international waters to stop that sort of waste. The only toxins that the billfish will usually have will be a buildup of lactic acid during a long or strenuous fight. Recreational fisherman are not allowed to sell their catches to the fish dealers here unless they have a commercial license to do so which helps in having most of the billfish released here.

                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                            Last I checked, mercury was toxic to humans. And according to at least one source (the UK Food Standards Agency), marlin has higher levels of mercury than any other fish except shark and swordfish. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/Fish/InNews/...

                            As far as one sustainability question goes, I was completely mistaken. It turns out that billfish actually reproduce and mature relatively quickly. The problem with sustainability is that commercially-fished marlin is almost always bycatch from tuna longlines; it's the fishing method (and the amount of other bycatch it generates, including sea turtles) that is a problem.

                            In Hawai'i the fish belong to the boat. Since a captain must, by definition, have a commercial license, selling to fish dealers isn't a problem. But even with all the catch and release fishing, there's still not much market for marlin. IMHO that says something about the desirability of the fish as food.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Yes on the mercury. We take mercury contamination as a given for all of the pelagic species here in the Gulf of Mexico. That is why I just listed the acid buildup. It is advisable to remove the skin and the fatty tissue between the skin and the flesh before consuming any of the pelagic species found here. All of the tunas here have that same problem, but we continue to consume tuna. No real difference between the tuna and marlin in that instance.

                              1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                Marlin consumption is banned in Australia due to the high Mercury and selenium content.

                                1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                  i am concerned as well but i eat 1 pc swordfish every yr to yr and a half about the size of my hand so it is prob. ok with such small consumption just as a treat

                              2. re: MIKELOCK34

                                Marlin is currently Listed as a species of concern. IMO that is a very valid reason NOT to seek out Marlin.

                                1. re: Docsknotinn

                                  Marlin IMO is the best fish ever! The guy at the supermarket was right. You really can't compare it to anything. It's a very exceptional fish! It's similar to swordfish only in appearance bot not really in anything else. Marlin is a nice juicy steak of fish. It doesn't smell like fish and it hardly tastes like fish. It's not as oily or fishy as swordfish and doesn't have a lot of those black things in the middle whatever that is that swordfish seems to have a lot of. The best way to cook it is grilled or sauteed. The only catch with Marlin is that you have to eat it quickly when it's hot or warm, if you let it get cold then it becomes quite hard and gummy almost like chewing gum which makes it harder to eat. But it really is the best fish I've ever had. Now I just need to find a place in Southern California that has it, preferably a market so I can buy it and cook it myself but I'd settle for a restaurant. The problem is I've heard that it is illegal to commercially fish and sell Marlin on the west coast because it doesn't seem to run as much out here as on the east coast. This is the reason I've gotten when I've asked for it. I'm really not sure if this is true. I guess the only other option is to go down to Mexico but that's a pretty risky trip these days just for some Marlin. Great fish!

                            2. It is excellent nice meaty taste. not fishy. about 1" thick cook about 3 min. with a layer of olive oil on the BBQ 2min on the other side.