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Help me get over seafood fears

I have a mental block about seafood, due to getting very sick as a child after eating some fish sticks. For years I wouldn't touch anything from the sea, except for the Friday night special at HJ's eating fried clams (which I didn't know came from the sea!) and I also had the fried scallops. I liked both, but I know that is pretty lowbrow seafood. My mom used to get those nasty frozen deviled crabs, which I didn't like, and the shrimp cocktails in the little juice glasses, Yuck! But then as a teen I had shrimp tempura at a Japanese restaurant and loved it.

Now as an adult I have branched out a bit more and have tried, and liked, crawfish, shrimp, lobster and calamari. I have tasted filet of sole (is that right?) that was lightly breaded and pan fried, some cornmeal breaded catfish, some kind of fried crab leg or maybe it was a crab finger, and after just a taste of these I did like them. What I have had that I did not like was Tilapia, but that was at a Red Lobster (not my choice!), smoked salmon out of a package (the cats ate well that night!) and crab cakes. I Used to like salmon croquettes, but haven't had one in years.

My problem is that if it has a "fishy" taste, I just can't get past that. So what would you recommend that I try? I really want to eat more fish, but not sure where to begin. I need a guide to go eat with me! My girlfriend goes with me and lets me taste her seafood, which is why I know what I do like, but I can't get my DH to even walk into a seafood place.

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  1. Some mild-tasting fish are: flounder, cod, halibut and grouper. I'd also recommend mahi-mahi and fresh salmon (not smoked).

    I usually cook my fish with a lot of aromatics or pan fry it. I'm not a big fish fan either, but feel the need to eat it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: QueenB

      Yeah, all the flat fishes (flounder, halibut, sole) are very mild, almost sweet. I don't like "fishy" fish either -- I don't even like most shellfish -- but I love flat fish. They're some of the best environmentally as well (at least, the Pacific ones are), and aren't especially high in mercury like some of the other popular fish like swordfish. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-meh...

      Since you're just learning to like fish, you can start by totally avoiding fish that are on the seafood watch "red/avoid" list. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr... If you never try them, you won't miss them!

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Sadly, after looking at the 'avoid' list for the Southeast (I'm in NC), I see that all the local mild flat fish are on it. :( What a bummer.

        1. re: romansperson

          Unfortunately, the Atlantic coast has been so overfished that most local fish are on the avoid list.

    2. Have you tried sushi? I started eating it in college. First starting with california rolls and veggie rolls and slowly moving towards raw fish (first in rolls and then moving towards eating larger pieces of raw fish). Now I eat sushi about once a week. My boyfriend wasn't a big fan of seafood either but really enjoys sushi now.

      4 Replies
      1. re: tatertot

        I tried sushi (I thought) at a buffet once. When I told my knowledgeable friend about what I ate she laughed and said it was just vegetables! I do want to try it again, but need a guide for that!

        1. re: danhole

          The tempura roll might be your gateway roll into sushi. Typically it's a roll with a piece of shrimp tempura and avocado. As you get more adventurous you can get variations of this roll combined with raw fish, either inside the roll or on top.

          It's great to go with a small group of people so you can sample a bunch of different rolls and figure out what you like. Also things I didn't like at first I love now, like eel, tobiko (fish roe), and soft shell crab.

          For the first year, I used to get whatever combo special they offered, usually a california roll and 5-7 pieces of nigiri (typically salmon, tuna, yellowtail tuna, shrimp, eel, mackerel, or octopus).

          Also, freshness makes a huge difference in how "fishy" something tastes.

          1. re: danhole

            If you're feeling especially brave, get your friend, and go to a sushi spot for lunch, where you can probably get a "sashimi" special. It will probably be 8-10 pieces of fish - 2 each of salmon, tuna, shrimp, mackerel, and some kind of whitefish. Each piece is just a single bite, so it's not like you have to slog through 8 oz of a piece of fish that you didn't like after the first taste. Plus by varying the amount of wasabi, soy, and ginger you use, you can enjoy a variety of tastes.

            Frankly, I don't even eat regular sushi anymore; the rice is just extra carbs I don't need. Sashimi is where it's at for me! Good luck; let us know if you give it a try.

          2. Try pickerel, or black cod- fresh only. They are the best "whitefish" IMO.

            Also arctic char, it is like a mild salmon.

            No matter who tells you to try Chilean sea bass, don't! It is endangered. Likewise orange roughy.

            Go for some great fish n' chips at, say McNie's. And have a beer. All fish battered and deep fried at a British style place, like halibut or haddock is mild.

            Also I have generally found that fresh unprepared fish that has been frozen too long-aside from prepared product like fish sticks, can often be fishier than fresh, so, go with fresh only.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Scary Bill

              Are fish 'n chips made with Cod, or what? I have been told that fresh is the best, but how do I know if it is or not? Other than watching someone catch it, I mean.

              1. re: danhole

                In the good old days (before the mushrooming seal population started hoovering up all the east coast cod), cod was the "cheap" fish at a fish and chip shop. If you wanted something "better", you asked for halibut. Now, cod is virtually unavailable, and most places serve haddock. Both are very mild in flavour.

            2. I was the same way,

              the fish I enjoy are "mild" fish, Mahi, Swordfish, shark, orange roughy, grouper, lake perch, and walleye.

              6 Replies
              1. re: swsidejim


                That makes me feel better that you can relate!

                1. re: danhole

                  we always had shrimp and scallops growing up, but very little fish(the fish we did have was a "salmon loaf" on fridays during lent, or tuna casserole, or cream of tuina on toast). I still cant eat salmon to this day.

                  As an adult I got exposed to clams, lobster, and crabs, crawfish, & now I am addicted to lobster, crawfish, and crabs, and love a good chowder.

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    I forgot about the tuna salad and tuna casserole. I can tolerate the casserole, but I do like tuna salad. Now a salmon loaf sounds as appealing as a ham or chicken loaf. Depression food, I guess.

                    I really want to try a soft shelled crab. It just looks so good to me, but those deviled crabs mom ate were rank, IMO.

                    1. re: danhole

                      Soft shell crabs are wonderful - if you get the chance go for them.

                      With fish I'd start with halibut, grouper, mahi-mahi. I don't agree with the salmon recommendations, though - one of my least favorite fish (unless freshly caught by my uncle on the Oregon coast - lol).

                2. re: swsidejim

                  Same here. I grew up just miles from Cape Cod, and didn't eat any seafood except for the occasional fried scallop. I'm just starting branch out into eating more fish.

                  I've learned that I like mild fish, and in smallish quantities. And I don't like things like pasta with seafood, where the whole dish takes on the fishy flavor. It's kind of fun, discovering a whole new food group to explore.

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    Fresh walleye is one of the best foods, the cheek meat is especially fine. It is a very mild fish. If it smells fishy, it is old and past its prime.

                  2. My Dad grew up in the depression and as a Catholic had fish on Fridays; apparently the fish was often not so good and for much of his life he had a problem with eating fish. He did come to particularly like grilled fish starting in his 40s -- swordfish was a big favorite (I don't like it personally).

                    I've also once had some bad skate wings, and to this day have a very hard time trying skate again.

                    On a positive note, I think your aversion to a "fishy" taste is a sign of good taste. Fresh fish shouldn't have a strong fishy taste (well, maybe some fish like bluefish and mackerel).

                    I think that you will most always find good fresh fish at sushi/japanese restaurants, they can have both raw sushi (which most often has a mild flavour) and cooked fish dishes. I'd say that you might avoid mackerel and fish eggs at first but it should be a learning experience and you will be the best judge of which fish flavours that you like.

                    1. Ms Hole, I'm kind of surprised! The key to most white fish is to start with fresh (or commercially frozen), cook quickly and lightly with light sauces such as butter, bit of garlic, and lemon. Fresh and mild flavors. We need to stay away from endangered and near-endangered species like Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, shark and the like.

                      For sashimi or sushi with sashimi, appropriate good fresh fish has no "fishy" flavor.

                      Octopus and squid done quickly and lightly are heavenly. As is smoked eel.

                      As to smoked salmon, I wish I were one of your cats!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        You would think that someone who lives so close to the gulf of mexico, that I would be a seafood eater, huh? Food poisoning makes you cautious for years after the fact.

                        Now, about that smoked salmon . . . I had to try it after Mr. Hole went to bed, and when I opened it, the smell was strong enough that all of the cats awoke and came running into the kitchen to see what mama was up to. I did taste it, but it was so fishy, I just couldn't eat it and I sure didn't want it hanging around. Is it normally that strong of smell and flavor or was this just a cheap batch? I have no idea what brand it was.

                        1. re: danhole

                          Smoked salmon is one of the stronger fish flavors. I can't remember, do you like stronger flavors in meats (mutton, lamb, venison)? They might be the four-legged versions of smoked salmon.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            I do like lamb and venison, but that's part of the problem - I know hunters, but not fishermen! So wild game isn't a problem like seafood is.

                          2. re: danhole

                            I find smoked salmon to be way too strong and fishy for my taste. I can handle fresh cooked salmon, but I really like raw salmon in sushi. Go figure.

                            Striped bass may be a good alternative too. I haven't eaten it in a while (dad hasn't caught any) but I remember it being pretty mild and had great consistency.

                        2. I'm not much of a fish eater either, but a filet of Walleye, lightly breaded and pan-fried, is really good.
                          Luby's makes pretty good salmon croquettes. I had one while driving through Texas 2 weeks ago. Their baked halibut and fried cod are also very good and mild tasting with no aroma.
                          For me, if you can smell it, I'm not eating it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pampatz

                            Denver + Patzcuaro yields Walleye? I'm partly mystified but mostly jealous :)

                          2. Sounds like you've already tried all the major fish food groups. Personal definitions of "fishy taste" can vary a lot, but I've run into that primarily with those awful brand-name fish products in the supermarket freezer(e.g., Mrs. Paul's), which I understanxd actually taste "bilgy" or "tanky" from being kept on board too long before processing.

                            Just keep on eating what you like. Don't feel you have to like all fish (though I'm a seafood junkie, one fish I found tasted awful was pompano). And yes, the mildest tasting fish is probably sole and its flatfish relatives, if fresh or flash frozen aboard trawlers.

                            1. My mother the fish-phobe has two fish exceptions, and maybe one will work for you.

                              1. homemade beer battered halibut fish and chips. Fresh oil, fresh beer batter (she uses the old Joy of Cooking recipe, I think), an excuse to eat homemade french fries. It's divine.
                              2. Baked halibut. She would put a thin layer of mayo on the fish (hey, she didn't grow up a foodie, and I think sour cream or whatever could work) and then place onion slices and bacon across the fish and bake it. The halibut is so moist and barely infused with bacon and onion.

                              My seafood hit dish is manila clams cooked in tomatoes that have been added to browned dials of spanish chorizo and lots of garlic. YUM.

                              1. Wow, our getting ill from fish sticks as children are allmost identical!! Truth be known, I most likely got a 24-hr bug right after eating, but the sheer memory of it made me avoid fish like the plague for many, many years.

                                I learned (much to my utter surprise) that sushi didn't insitll the same reaction in me, as cooked fishy-fish did. I love sushi dearly now, but it made me really wonder if time and wisdom (ha!) might change my stubborn ideas that I hated cooked fish. Sticking my baby-toe into the fish & chips waters, I had some fantastic fresh, perfectly fried that blew my mind! I became a f&c -fiend- then, trying it everywhere it was offered on a resto menu. I've had a few literal "stinkers" but thankfully...most have been good to very, very good.

                                To me, cod is KING. Very light, moist and flaky- it's my go-to most of the time. My husband likes fish, and is a bit more adventerous. His favorite is Baquetta, or black seabass. I will admit, the bite I tasted was quite good. He likes all of his fish cajun-blackened, and that's a good way to hide some fishiness too!*LOL*

                                I've found wise-words to remember: the closer to the ocean/water you are, the fresher the fish. I'll be honest, and say i've not eaten any fresh trout, but I know from trying catfish, it's too strong for my tastes.

                                Cod aside, the best fish i've ever tasted is sculpin. Buttery, it melted in my mouth and was very sweet. If fish could be candy, I had it! Beyond delicious, I still crave it, but it's rare to find.

                                Become friends with a fisherman! They love to share extras, and have others taste what they catch. (at least the ones I know.. I'm sure there are those who like to keep all their spoils, tho!)

                                Take it slow. If something dosen't taste good, don't force yourself to keep eating it. I don't think i'm ever going to like cooked tuna, or any salmon, or catfish. All 3 are too "fishy" for my palate. I love tuna sushi and sashimi, tho!

                                Learning to love fresh fish again has brought me alot of culinary happiness. I wish i'd started earlier!

                                Best wishes, and have fun!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Honeychan

                                  danhole, have you tried crab cakes? I love them, and if they're made right, they are really yummy. Go to a place that uses a large proportion of real crab meat to filler. The Dallas Morning News Eats blog has a review of The Woodlands and they rave about their crab cakes! (I'm pretty sure I remember you live in the Dallas area.)

                                  1. re: Thefoodczar

                                    I have tried crab cakes once, but wasn't too impressed. I'm not sure of the proportions, though. I'll try them again one of these days.

                                    BTW, I am in Houston.

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      Sorry, danhole. I knew it was Dallas or Houston because you're always on the Texas board. Please try some crab cakes chock-full of crab soon. Might be right up your alley, especially if served with a good, fresh remoulade.

                                2. To go with a few other comments here, fresh fish should NEVER, and I cannot emphasize NEVER enough, taste or smell fishy. You're better off eating frozen. Also, beware of a place that touts "fresh" fish. the industry definition of "fresh" means never frozen. In some instances that can mean for quite some time, from the time the fish is caught, brought back to shore, sold, distributed, and sold to the retailer (whether restaurant or market) and finally sold to the consumer. I love seafood but rarely eat it due to my own strict measures of the term "fresh". That being said, if you ever taste a fish caught just before cooking and eating, you'll likely have your socks knocked off. FYI, good wild caught salmon really isn't very "salmony"

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Icantread

                                    just what i was going to say.yea,there are a few that are strong but otherwise, just say no.

                                    i had a problem with a bad oyster last year.i was sick as a dog but it didn't stop from having some last time i could.

                                  2. It seems like you're on the right track, most everything tastes better breaded and fried. I'm a big sucker for fried seafood.

                                    If you want to jump right into seafood...get yourself a super fresh filet of salmon let's say, copper river salmon(tastes amazing and is very healthy) if you can find it, if not then just whatever's freshest. If you can enjoy an oily fish(which tend to be the more interesting and distinguished flavors from a culinary perspective) then there is indeed hope for youl Then rub it all over with salt and pepper, squeeze a lemon wedge and throw it on a hot grill. Glaze it with a sweet balsamic brown butter sauce a couple minutes before you're done and serve it on some asparagus. You'll find the smokiness from grilling is a strong enough flavor on its own that even people who don't tend to like fish still like grilled fish.

                                    The fresher the fish, the less fishy it tastes...or more accurately, the true flavor of the fish comes out unmasked by the off odors produced from deteriorating proteins and fats.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: bsheitman

                                      we hardly ever bread fish anymore.besides the fact that frying isn't too good for you,i think you tend to lose the taste of the item to the breading.i pan fry a lot but the only coatings i use these days is made up of seasonings.we do seared tuna in a mix of ground white pepper,ground coriander and ground fennel seed.amazing on fresh tuna cooked rare and sliced in medallions over a huge salad.

                                      1. re: davmar77

                                        I'm right with you on the seared Tuna. I'm not big on comparing seafood to land animals, but this gave me the sense I was eating a filet mignon....except not bland like real filet can be, rather, full-flavored and meaty.

                                        1. re: bsheitman

                                          i haven't eaten meat or poultry since the early 70's so seafood and veggies are my main.when asked if i miss it,i just say i'll have some well made yellow fin seared and rare.i also love sushi so i feel like i'm not missing a thing.i wish more people who have never had it would try fresh tuna instead of hearing they don't like the stuff in the cans so why bother.

                                          1. re: davmar77

                                            About a month ago, I realized that if I had to choose one meat for the rest of my life it would certainly be seafood. The range and flexibility is endless. Even if we just limited it to fish and eliminated shellfish, and the various invertebrates....each fish tastes so different, even different parts of the fish when preparing a whole fish...

                                            I wouldn't be missing out if I became a....piscitarian.....man I've been waiting to deploy that word for a long time. It almost felt natural too....so I have to use it 16 more times to make it part of my regular vocabulary right? ;)

                                            1. re: bsheitman

                                              Hate to rain on your parade, but it's actually "pescetarian". ;)

                                            2. re: davmar77

                                              On the flip side of that fresh vs. canned tuna, would you think that someone who does like the canned tuna (as in a tuna salad) would like fresh tuna even better?

                                              1. re: danhole

                                                i know several folks who will eat the canned stuff but won't touch fresh.go figure.it's really like a totally different food.

                                        2. re: bsheitman

                                          You have gotta admit though that some fish have a "Heavy oil" taste, grew up eating both rockfish(striped bass), bluefish and perch. These fish have that "fishy" taste, unlike a mild sole or flounder.

                                          Off topic a bit, I recently had St Peters and it was delicious...but I have been told that it is the same as tilipia, then that it isn't, someone else told me that its another name for John Dory.... I am confused ..any experts out there???

                                        3. Mrs Hole, I was thinking about, "I really want to eat more fish, but not sure where to begin."

                                          Salted and then grilled or broiled tuna cheek--the rich, fatty, flavorful meat on the cut that includes both sides of the gill opening. Absolutely, stunningly delicious. You will become a fish eater!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                            I wonder where I would find that in Houston. Any certain type of restaurant I should check into?

                                            1. re: danhole

                                              I don't know. Guess you'd have to call around to the surf n' turfs. Please let us know if you get to try a broiled tuna collar (which I think is the better term in English).

                                          2. I am SOOOO with you on "fishy taste" - just can't do it - I can't even do salmon. That said, I like sole, halibut, tuna (particularly seared), mahi mahi, crab (only King steamed legs), lobster, opah, swordfish is ok, cod is ok if blackened. Sushi-wise, albacore sashimi (not seared please), tuna sashimi, snapper and halibut are just ok, *can't stand* yellowtail (tastes very greasy on my tongue, bbq eel is good.

                                            1. FWIW, I recall reading a flyer at Trader Joe's about how their fish is flash-frozen and then vacuum-sealed right on the boat, which keeps it in prime condition. I've never had anything but good quality from them; no odor when thawed. When buying fresh fish, always smell it first. Make sure it's kept cold - preferably, keep a small cooler in your car. Failing that, buy a bag of frozen veggies and have the cashier put both in a tied plastic bag, then place it in the grocery bag so that it is surrounded by other food. At home, refrigerate the fresh fish over ice-cubes or under the bag of frozen veggies. Cook it within a day. One of my favorites is to buy a container of seafood stuffing at the fish counter - the cracker-crumb type (or make your own). Spread it in a baking pan, cover with single layer of fish fillets. Take some of those now-thawed veggies and stir some soy or teriyaki sauce into them, then spread over the fish, bake at 350-375 degrees for 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness), until the veggies begin to caramelize a little and the sauce looks syrupy.

                                              1. UPDATE!

                                                So I have been trying some more seafood. I had some salmon bisque, which was okay, but not something I would ever order. Then I had a couple bites of ruby trout, which was stuffed with saffron rice, on top of sauteed leeks. First bite, just trout, didn't like it. Squeezed some lemon on it and tried again, nope. Took another bite with half trout and half rice. Liked the rice, still didn't care for the trout. Scraped out the rice, and ate that with the leeks.

                                                Last night I tried some roasted sea bass (they did not say it was chilean) and that was really good. My friend that allowed me to taste it was impressed because she said it was just roasted, no sauces or heavy seasonings. So we shared our dinners, and I got some fish and she got some of my duck!

                                                My daughter says she makes a delicious grilled salmon and promised to make me some. Waiting for that!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: danhole

                                                  Fish is like tomatoes: most people have never had good fish or good tomatoes, and therefore "don't like them".

                                                  If you don't like fish, odds are good that you've never had fresh fish. It just goes completely downhill within hours of being removed from the water. You get yourself a piece of fresh fish, don't mess it up during the cooking process, and you will probably like it. I've proven this rule to myself dozens of times.

                                                2. I don't know you, but I'm proud of you for trying to get over your seafood fears!!! It kind of makes me sad when people say they don't like seafood; I feel like they're really missing out.

                                                  Anyway, I would recommend the crab cakes at Vic & Anthony's. Their red snapper is very good, too. (Yes, I'm talking about a steakhouse!)

                                                  In general, I think if you're at a very nice restaurant (especially New American cuisine, like Mark's) with a small menu, most everything should be top quality, including the fish (but not on a Monday when fish is supposedly not very fresh in restaurants). I haven't been to the seafood restaurant Pesce, but I happened to be looking at their menu today and was very interested in visiting.

                                                  I haven't been to Dolce Vita in a while, but their daily entree specials, among which one fish dish is usually included, were always very good.

                                                  I'm sorry you had a bad tilapia experience. You might want to try cooking it at home. I get the frozen tilapia filets from Wal-Mart (because it's convenient and they're good) Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to about 400 degrees or so. Line baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Remove fish from plastic pouch and put in the pan (without the liquid from the pouch). Sprinkle with Tony Chachere's original Creole seasoning. Spray fish with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Fish is done when it flakes with a fork. It doesn't get any easier.

                                                  Good luck! Keep at it!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: lynndela

                                                    Thanks Lynn! Tonight my DH requested that we go to Ruth's Chris, and they are having a summer special with a limited menu. I am going to get the Mixed Grill, which is a 4 oz. filet, stuffed chicken and a lump crab cake. This will be my first time to get a crab cake, and I hope I like it, but if I don't my daughter and her BF will be there to pass it along to. I figure they only way to know if to try! My really big obstacle in all of this is that I need to go with someone who likes seafood, because my DH won't touch it with a 10 foot pole! He won't even go into a seafood restaurant. I wanted to try a soft shelled crab dish at a vietnamese place, but no one else at the table would eat it, so I passed on it. Luckily neverfull likes it so I will go with her and give it a try. If I don't like it, I know for sure she does!

                                                    As far as cooking the tilapia at home . . . not going to happen unless the DH is out of town! And that doesn't happen often. But I wonder if I could get a small portion at the store so I could taste just a little. The tilapia dish I had was not really flaky, more the consistency of a mushy chicken breast.

                                                  2. The key is to buy really fresh, or flash frozen. Oddly, I have found that shrimp from my local "upscale" market, often at $18.99 per pound, tends to have the tell-tale ammonia taste of the not-so-fresh, while bags of pre-cleaned frozen shimp always taste fresh once cooked. That fishy smell and taste has a lot to do with freshness.

                                                    I would keep to delicate white fish to start. Dover sole, Flounder, Texas Redfish, Farm-raised catfish, Tilapia -- these are all great fish for the timid. Breading and frying seems to be the way most people try them, but you can also bake them with lemon, pepper, garlic or any type of seasoning sold for this purpose.

                                                    You can also try snow crab or King crab legs. and probably would be able to manage a great grilled swordfish. Cook everything through. I have found that serving salmon or tuna rare is a bit off-putting for some. Also, find a great terriyaki marinade or glaze that can be brushed on your steakfish or salmon filet -- it seems to make most of these slightly stronger tasting fish delicious. If salmon is too strong, try steelhead. It is a "salmon trout" with an incredibly delicate flavor.

                                                    Other possibilities: Halibut or Grouper (harder to cook at home, try them out at a good restaurant), and red snapper. I would stay away from cod, monkfish, or anything called scrod unless you can verify that it is flounder, and mahi mahi until you get a bit more comfortable with the textures. They are great and mild tasting, but the textures are somewhat different.

                                                    Avoid frozen pre-cooked at all costs. That is why you got sick from fish sticks to begin with, and they taste awful.

                                                    1. I love shell fish and used to love most fish, especially those that my father fished. There were some episodes of allergic reaction to shell fish after i came to the States...so i couldn't eat shell fish for a while....then at some point, somewhere in a restaurant perhaps, I just KNEW that i could and wanted the shrimp there. Ate it. loved it, no allergic reactions. From then on i learned to trust my senses. i think your body can tell, especially if you've been sick from it once, whether it's going to be alright, or if you're going to react.

                                                      when i was in Houston, i used to get this whole deep fried Tilapia from a place (i want to say from a Greek place because i used to share it with my Greek voice teacher/"Grandma") that was fantastic crisp and tasty. Years later, in New York, I have not had one good whole fish. Even in the best Chinese restaurants they smell like ammonia to me, and yet co-diners don't complain. Growing up in Taiwan, eating the fish heads, brain and all, I have a sense of how it should taste with minimum spicing, so that no amount of spices can salvage the fish if it wasn't good to start. Another fond memory that helps me convince myself that i'm not unreasonable or too harsh in judgement is one of eating this plate of small fried lake perch (whole) at this country club of some sort in Geneva. A good fish not only doens't smell fishy, it has its own aroma. (in that respect, i'll have to say though, that the frozen ones at best can only be non-smelly, but tend to be a little flat in its own aroma)

                                                      Anyhow, i say trust your senses, but at the same time have an open mind: don't write off ALL Tilapia just because you had a few bad ones.

                                                      1. Ceviche & Sashimi..... Ironically its the perfect prep of fish for those who hate fish.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                          That's good to know EN. Odd thought though. To think that raw fish is a good intro to seafood, but then again there are many vegetables that I liked raw, before I really enjoyed them cooked.

                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                            I am slightly allergic to fish (I usually get a little bit of a rash or a histamine response) so growing up I instinctively hated it... couldn't stand the sight of Fish Sticks, Tuna Salad etc.,.

                                                            Around 10... I had a bite of Mex style Shrimp Cocktail that I liked... fast forward 3 years... I had a fish ceviche for the first time... and really loved it. At the point I became a seafood eater... and the allergic response subsided with time... however, nowadays I still find some cooked fish to be disgusting (particularly Salmon cooked past Medium Rare)... but Raw seafood... I have never had a bad experience with.

                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                              I'm with Eat Nopal. I could live forever and never eat cooked salmon again, but raw salmon nigiri is like the nectar of the gods to me. Exquisite.

                                                        2. When I was little, if Mom made fish for dinner it was a standing joke that Daddy always got the ONE piece out of 7 (there were 7 of us) that had a bone in it. I developed this horrific fear of choking to death on a fish bone. I would refuse to eat any, and end up with buttered bread and jelly. It followed me into adulthood and I remember years ago out on a date with some yahoo that ordered salmon and I panicked that he'd choke to death in front of me. He told me that salmon have no bones, and proceeded to educate me on these numerous and tasty boneless breeds of fish like perch, halibut and mackerel-no bones!! I was astounded. What a moron. I love well prepared fish now, and credit my handsome hubby for getting me hooked (pun intended) on sushi.
                                                          But it took a while. Shellfish were always a favorite- although one time I got deathly ill on shrimp from a hotel cafeteria-style food court. It was wave after wave of neausea, running to the bathroom, sweating, shaking, back to the bathroom, not knowing weather to sit or stand (if you know what I mean) and just generally wanting to die all night. The sushi thing took me about 3 seperate attempts. Now I'm no longer a cheap date at the sushi bar. In fact, we are willing to drive an hour or further from home if need be to satisfy a sushi craving. I'm glad you are trying more and more- one thing is bound to click for you. I had swordfish for the first time this past Easter and swooned. Very mild, with a non-threatening cooked chicken consistancy. Grilled and mildly seasoned. If I can smell it or it tastes smelly, I stop. If I see bones I fend off panic and just push it around on my plate-meal over. Bring on the jelly sandwiches! I'm into crispy salmon skin now- so there's hope for late bloomers like us I promise.

                                                          1. Yesterday we went fishing for tilapia, after which I made dinner for eight: filleted the fish; cut the fillets into chunks and put aside; simmered the heads and bones for 25 minutes for stock; strained; sauteed thinly sliced onion, added diced garlic & ginger, tossed in Ethiopian chile powder and tomato paste; when all that was integrated, added the stock plus diced tomatoes and carrots and chopped cilantro; let simmer for 40 minutes; added fish and brought back to temp. Served with fresh cut chives on top. All was consumed, not a bone encountered. Also served rice and Japanese quick cucumber pickles. Chilean Cab. Good time had by all.

                                                            1. Another recommendation - the salmon at Churrasco's. I thought about it when I posted before, but didn't want to write it, because I hadn't been there in a while. Was there today and tasted my family member's dish of salmon, and it was excellent.

                                                              I ordered the ceviche sampler. After having had fanstastic ceviche in Lima, Peru (where it is or it almost is the national dish), I've been wondering if anything in Houston measures up. I was disappointed at Cafe Red Onion Seafood y Mas, where it's supposed to be a specialty.

                                                              The Churrasco's offerings were commendable. The traditional one was very good. The one with the tomato-based sauce tasted like it was in ketchup or cocktail sauce; I didn't eat much of that. I would like to see them offer ceviche with a mix of seafood, rather than just fish with one shrimp on top; I keep picturing pieces of octopus in the ceviche in Peru. Yummy!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: lynndela

                                                                I'm wondering about a can of Salmon that I got from a friend in a "gift basket" some months ago. It seems like it should be OK to eat, but the can looks "strange". It looks like something from a k-ration pack, with an unlabeled olive-drab-colored can. SALMON USA is stamped on a gold lid. There is a faintly visible pink-colored dot-matrix-typed serial number on the side


                                                                CHOW Down?