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Starting to Eat Fish

I have been a vegetarian since childhood. However, I now feel the need to try eating fish. What kind would be best to start off on? I was thinking of sardines. What is the best way to mask the taste while starting off?

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  1. I don't know your reasons for wanting to start eating fish, but if you want to but are concerned the flavor will be too strong or off-putting, you will probably be best served by starting with a mild-tasting fish and *not* trying to mask the flavor too much (sardines don't qualify; they are an oily fish, and oily fish are more strongly flavored). If you're going to eat fish, it should be because you enjoy the flavor, so work your way up to the types with meatier textures and stronger flavors. A delicate white fish like flounder or sole would be a good one to start with.

    1. Try halibut, haddock, sole, these are mild flakey white fishes. IMO, sardines may be too strong for your pallet.

      7 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        Those mild white fish are a good idea. Shrimp & scallops are sweet & mild too.

        You ask about the best way to 'mask the taste' of the fish. That's puzzling. Nutrition aside, if you're not eating for the flavor & texture what's left?

        1. re: FishTales

          Nutrition perhaps? In addition to those suggested I would add tuna, but not out of a can. A nice steak raw or seared rare.

          1. re: lynnlato

            I have some nutritional deficiencies and thats the reason I am looking to eat fish. Thanks for the suggestions above. However, I was recommended sardines specifically in my diet. Any ideas on ways to eat it?

            1. re: asubram3

              i like sardine sandwiches on rye bread with bermuda onion, tomato, lettuce and mayo.

              1. re: asubram3

                I still think you may need to "work up to" sardines, with their stronger flavor. (There are plenty of fish lovers who still don't care for sardines.) If you have never eaten animal flesh, strong flavors will be difficult.

                If sardines are being recommended for particular nutrients, such as B12, D, omega-3 fatty acids, etc., there may be other ways to get more into your diet as you acclimate your taste. I'm all for getting maximum nutrition through foods, but having to mask the taste of something you eat to be able to eat it is a negative check mark in my book.

                Why not try a mild white fish and see how you tolerate it before plunging in? I don't want you to feel disheartened by your first foray into eating fish.

                1. re: asubram3

                  Sorry, I'm of no help with the sardines. I wouldn't touch 'em with a 10 foot fork. I eat many of things, but sardines are not my food friend. They are too strong for me and I don't consider myself to be even remotely sensitive to foods.

                  Good luck! Let us know how you make out. :)

                  1. re: asubram3

                    I've always liked the taste of sardines, and eat them on crackers with or without chopped onions. However, a good way to mask the taste is to mix sardines into tomato-based pasta sauce and eat it over pasta; if you mash them up and cook together for a while, you may not even know they're in there, especially if the sauce is heavy on the garlic, and you should still get all the nutritional benefits from them.

            2. Mahi-mahi and grouper are both pretty mild in terms of flavor and easy to find if you're near warm water fishing grounds. If you can find them locally and in season, cobia and red snapper are also relatively mild if you're looking to splurge.

              1 Reply
              1. re: beachmouse

                I have to disagree. I'm a huge fish lover, and I find mahi-mahi (AKA dolphin fish, though they have nothing to do with the mammal) can be extremely strong and unpleasant -- but it isn't fishy. It's one of my least favorite fish by far.

                Snapper, yes. Also flounder, cod, sole, haddock, walleye or tilapia.

                After 17 years of vegetarianism, shrimp was my first foray back into resuming life as an omnivore. I worked into others very, very slowly and suffered no adverse effects.

                Good luck -- I believe strongly that you will be much healthier by broadening your horizons.

              2. The original comment has been removed
                1. Good God no, don't start with sardines as they have a strong fishy taste. Try catfish filet, which has no fishy taste at all, is very sweet, has no bones, and has no scales (because they skin it). This is the fish for people who are lukewarm about fish. I roll the filets in bread crumbs and put them in a hot oven 425* to bake quickly. The outside edges get a little crunchy. Because the fish is bland and sweet it goes well with a zippy sauce, for example sweet-and-sour pineapple (saute some onion and green pepper, add a whole can of crushed pineapple, add vinegar, sugar, and salt to taste, and thicken with a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water) and rice. OR, with a fresh salsa and rice, maybe some black beans too.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Querencia

                    Querencia, you're right -- as long as you're talking farmed catfish, especially the Asian varieties.

                    But if OP gets hold of wild American river catfish -- well, that's easily the strongest, muddiest fish I've ever tasted. It's absolutely not a beginner's fish. I can't eat it any way but fried in cornmeal, and even then it's sometimes too much for me.

                    1. re: dmd_kc

                      Yep, agreed. I thought I hated catfish because it tasted like a mouthful of mud. Then I had the farmed, and I love it. Very sweet and tasty.
                      If you're low on calcium, sardines may have been recommended because the bones get soft during the canning process and are edible and easy to eat, giving you a lot of calcium. I still wouldn't start with sardines, though. I like them but it took me a long time.

                      Try this- Beach Cliff fish steaks in a little sardine-type can. They're just about everywhere, I dont' think I've ever looked for them and not found them, and they have several different flavors (with hot chiles is my favorite) and they're milder than sardines. I do pull out the little piece of backbone in the middle but that's all.

                      Good luck with your reintroduction, I hope you end up loving it, since you need it!