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Good Fish for Fish Hater

Ive never liked fish and don't try it very often at all for that reason. I want to start eating a more healthy diet however, and would like to include fish in it.

Can someone please recommend a healthy fish for me to eat with a fairly mild taste? When I buy fish is it better to get fish steaks or filets? Any healthy fish recipes would also be greatly appreaciated!


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  1. More info is needed; is your fish loathing more texture, taste or smell related? What kind of fish, and what preparation types do have in your past that might suggest alternatives that avoid those characteristics.

    Frex, I was made to eat whole flounder with the skin (yecccch) and bones when I was very little, and inevitably got at least one sharp bone stuck in my throat, yet as an adult, seafood, even whole fish)are among my favorite foods, despite my fear and loathing early on.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      I think its mostly the taste .. when I was young my mother always made me eat salmon and I hated being forced to eat it and also the taste...so I never really got excited about trying fish on my own. Oh and of course those damn fish sticks! I really want to change my mind and embrace the wonderful world of fish though!
      I guess ireally will have to just tryy them all and see what I like... I was kind of hoping to hear from someone in a similar situation..

      1. re: kpaxonite

        I love salmon, but a lot of folks don't like oily or strong tasting fish. Personally, I have an involuntary gag reflex to sockeye salmon and other extremely lean fish, such as barramundi, I cannot choke them down.

        I think there are a lot of good suggestions in the various responses here; you might try focusing on clean tasting, firm white fish like halibut, haddock, and maybe flounder and fluke. Mahi mahi makes me a bit queasy unless it's well marinated, but for many non fish eaters, it is an ideal choice; firm like steak, almost, no fishy taste. I love Chilean sea bass, but a lot of folks don't like the large flake and oiliness of it; I bake it in a putanesca type sauce.

        You're also going to have to figure out if you prefer drier or more moist preparations.

        One other suggestion that leaps to mind is brook trout, very mild, firm, usually served with some sort of very savory stuffing for flavor. Also, Arctic Char is a cross between brook trout and salmon; very pale pink firm, not strong tasting, pleasing firm texture.

        I agree that experimentation without someone making you sit in front of a fish meal you hate is going to be key to any new fish preferences. :-)

    2. Well what i think is mild, you might not. But I think mahi mahi and ahi are perfectly mild. I like the firm texture too. Whiting is good, just lightly bread them with rice flour and you can eat them with just lemon or make butter, parsley, lemon and caper sauce. I found that it's better to go easy on the butter, it tends to make it too rich. Spices too, I use cajun spices they really help with flavor, but then I love fish as long as it doesn't smell fishy. For me red snapper smells too strong and I know so many people love it.. But atlantic salmon doesn't to me. You are going to go through trial and error I'm afraid, it's personal taste that decides for us.
      Okay, but then again give me anchovies to top all over my salad, I love them, go figure.

      7 Replies
      1. re: chef chicklet

        What kind of fish goes well with cajun flavours? When I cook shrimp [which i already love] I always do it in butter and siracha sauce because I love spicy food...but thats pretty darn unhealthy

        1. re: kpaxonite

          Catfish is a natural fish for Cajun flavors, and the farm raised catfish are very mild tasting.

          I also recommend cod, haddock, perch and hake which are all very mild white fish.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Catfish is an excellent suggestion for someone who is not a fish eater. Try it cajun blackened style.

          2. re: kpaxonite

            I use mahi mahi, it's a sturdy fish. I don't really care much for catfish.

            Do you have to add the butter to your shrimp? I add some red curry and a little coconut milk, or just enough oil to scoot it around then add my hot sauces. I like the jarred hot chil sauces with garlic. It has oil in it already,no need to add anymore.

            I know what you mean spicy for me is the best, ever have camerones a la diabla? I know I probably spelled it wrong, but oh my goodness it is awesome!

          3. re: chef chicklet

            chef chicklet, you're awesome, but I have to disagree. I think mahi mahi is among the worst starter fishes for someone who doesn't usually like fish. While not especially fishy, it still can have an extremely strong taste and overly-assertive texture. I have known several people who couldn't stomach it. In fact, it's one of the few fish I pretty much never eat.

            I'd suggest one of the milder white fish, especially tilapia, farmed catfish or basa, orange roughy, halibut or flounder. My very favorite is walleye, bluegill or sunfish, though they're a bit harder to find frozen (the last two maybe impossible). Monkfish is very mild. And as Cheese Boy says below, skate is totally delicious. I think it resembles crab to a certain degree in texture especially, but also in its slightly-sweet flavor.

            Thicker filets may pose a texture problem for people who don't enjoy fish already, so I'd say no to cod for right now. And although swordfish and shark aren't particularly fishy, they still have that mahi mahi thing in the firmness of the flesh and the strong taste that is off-putting to some.

            1. re: dmd_kc

              thanks for the nice comment . Of course you can disagree! I've grown so fond of it since a trip to Florida a few years ago. It was the only fish they had for fish sandwiches (which I adore). I ate them almost everyday I was there. I came home a week later and everyone kept telling me that I lost weight. I lost over 5 pounds! LOL! but I could I could eat mahi mahi t everyday and I don't taste fishiness at all. I do have a problem with most tilapia, the farmed tilapia tastes so muddy to me. I agree with the bluegill although I haven't had it years. Yes to monkfish too. And see, I totally do taste something weird going on with swordfish and I hate shark. The fillets I buy are frozen and I get them at Trader Joes, perhaps becuase since their flash frozen right away that might take away some of the fishy flavor.
              How about Ahi? I have a picky fish eater (my doh) I've tried so many fish on him, mahi mahi he loves. Ahi, halibut, some salmon, and some cods. I don't care what they say, not all fish labled cod is the same.
              I think most people just have to dive in and experiment, but using cajun spices is one way and the other way my picky eater loves fish is if I make a dijon mustard, white wine and cream sauce. That's a good one for bbq'd salmon or halibut.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                I occasionally get a piece of swordfish like you describe, too. More than any other food, I think we take it on faith as to which species of fish we're purchasing -- especially with the smaller white fillets you get frozen.

                And yes, as others have said, tilapia can vary widely.

          4. Cod and Halibut come to mind.

            Generally most fish is pretty mild tasting, just avoid the obvious things like salmon, swordfish, ahi tuna, and mackerel etc.

            1. I am a fish lover, could even JUST eat fish but when I talk to others about fish (particularly those that don't like fish) - they seem to enjoy haddock. I would start there and fix with other ingrediants that you like, maybe wrapped in proschutto or a nice lemon/caper sauce, and keep away from deep frying if you are trying to go healthy. I also like it with dijon mustard spread over the top, sprinkle some seasoned breadcrumbs (bake it). Real healthy, wrap it in foil with seasoning, garlic, cut lemons - on the grill. If you love asian flavors, I'm sure you could find some nice recipes on here.

              Definately do filets - one bone and you'll be miserable with fish if you try a steak.

              Haddock holds up very nicely, firm and flaky.

              good luck

              1. To the fine suggestions of haddock and mahi mahi, I would add monkfish. Its flavor is very mild, and its texture is more meaty than fishy (i.e., it's a bit chewy and it doesn't really flake). Flounder filet might also be a good starter fish.

                1. I like the mahi-mahi suggestion above. It has a very firm texture, yet mild taste. (I think what you want to stay away from is oily fish, such as bluefish, and soft fish, such as tilapia. However, I see that you live in Montreal and mahi-mahi, a warm water fish, might be hard to come by. I also like the haddock suggestion above--very mild flavored and reasonably firm, although not as firm as the mahi-mahi. And haddock ought to be available without any problem.

                  Also, being a Canadian, you might want to try pan-sauteed in butter fresh water perch, one of my favorites, which is hard to come by here in Florida. The flavor is mild and wonderful.

                  As for fillets versus steaks, it depends on the fish, but since I am advising you to stay away from the oily fishes, such as bluefish, tuna, and swordfish, I'd go for the fillets. It seems to be the oily fishes (which I like, by the way) that come packaged as steaks. I hope this helps.

                  1. The only fish my family ate when I was growing up was swordfish steaks, which hardly taste like fish at all, and tuna in casserole and tuna salad sandwiches, and the only seafood was scallops, as mild a flavor and pleasing a texture as there is. So I guess my parents didn't care that much for fish and seafood, and I didn't get into it myself until a good deal later.

                    Right now salmon is my go-to fish at home, along with tuna, but in restaurants I'll try anything at least once. (Leave it to their kitchen to cope with the bones!)

                    If you're only interested in omega-3 and such, you can take fish oil pills and be done with it. But that would be a lost opportunity as there are so many appetizing ways to prepare fish.

                    That said, I agree that you should say more about what fish etc. dishes you've actually eaten and disliked, and what you disliked about them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: armagnac

                      I honestly cant say all that much because I never eat fish in fillet form... the only times I currently eat fish are as tuna sandwiches and sushi , which I dont make myself... but other than the tuna sandwich I really dont have expirience with cooked fish, which is how I would be eating it. From what I remember I just hate the fishy taste and how it kind of falls apart/crumbles in your mouth. Sorry I cant really say more because I really just dont know, thats why I tried to ask what fish might be a good starting point.
                      thanks for all the wonderful responces so far btw

                    2. I have a fair amount of experience with fish, and I've found that the most mild of all fish fillets is BASA. It tastes like nothing, seriously, and it reminds me a lot of flounder and fluke which can be cooked in similar fashion. Another suggestion to try would be Skate.

                      Some fish to avoid ... tilapia, shark, salmon, bluefish, swordfish, and mackerel.

                      BASA ---> http://www.coastalseafoods.com.au/pro...

                      SKATE -> http://www.ddfish.co.uk/DD_images/pro...

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Your suggestion to avoid tilapia surprises me. It is mild, readily available, inexpensive, and the fillets are truly boneless. There's a currently active thread about tilapia recipes on this board.

                        I second skate, halibut, and monkfish.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          The problem with tilapia is that there's a lot of it out there of poor quality and if you don't know where to get it, you can get really icky textured tilapia. It's all farmed, none of it is wild, and production economies seem to be harming quality. I won't eat it any more. There's also discussion of this phenomenon that I've seen on the boards.

                          1. re: mcf

                            +1. Used to love the stuff. But the few times I've tried in the last few years it's been not only bland, but incredibly mushy.

                            1. re: mcf

                              +2. Tilapia fillets here on the East coast taste like they've come from dirty murky waters and their meat certainly reflects that. I absolutely refuse to eat fish that tastes like it's been stored in my toilet's water tank. Asian markets aren't an alternative either. Same issue.

                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                You might not want to know how tilapia are raised because you would never eat them if you did.

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    I'll let you watch a YouTube clip of Mike Rowe's dirty jobs. You might need to watch the next episode.


                                  2. re: Kelli2006

                                    I know and I don't care. People make such a big deal of it.

                            2. re: Cheese Boy

                              Cheese Boy: Are your "fish to avoid" listed because they're on the overfished list?

                              Skate is delicious, but it has so many tiny bones.

                              I love cod. Ling cod is best. It's mild .

                              We love it cooked in the oven with lots of chopped leeks, garlic, thyme and some bacon. If you're watching calories, you can use turkey bacon. It's a delicious dish from Jamie Oliver.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Are you sure you mean skate? It's a ray, and you eat the wing, so it just has the one big bone. And some cartilage, but that's easy to eat around. Maybe you're thinking of shad?

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  @oakjoan... No I mentioned that particular list of fish because they tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to unpleasant tastes. I also feel that the OP would find the odors quite discomforting too.

                                  For the OP, cod and haddock are good choices. Pollock less so.

                                  Fish with* few* bones are whiting, and monkfish. Skate can be filleted and cooked without bones. On Italian menus it is often referred to as "DELICATO" -- served in a delicate manner for the delicate palate sans bones.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    I forgot ling cod, it is mild in taste and smell to me too. I just can never find it, but good advice.

                                      1. re: EricMM

                                        I didn't know that, thanks. I'll keep a look out for that name too.

                                  2. re: Cheese Boy

                                    Wild Alaska salmon is abundant, no need to avoid.

                                  3. Salmon has a strong favor, as such some people love it and some hate it. There are many fishes with much milder taste than salmon. Typically white fishes have milder taste. I would say tuna is not a bad start. It has a mild taste, easy to cook. Chilean sea brass as other suggested has a very mild taste -- more so than tuna. That being said, no fish come close to omega-3 per serving than salmon, so you will need to eat a lot of other fish to get the same level of omega-3 as eating salmon (scroll down to the table):


                                    The other route is just to overwhelm the fish taste. You can use, as you suggested, Cajun species or strong Indian spices, like turmeric.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I just remember. I think Cod is a good choice too. Mild taste.

                                    2. Much good advice here, to which I would a couple points/questions:

                                      1) Where do you live, what's your access, and what can you spend? I have often found that the best fish, regardless of species, is the most local fish. Even living in Seattle as I do, I will often choose a relatively humble and simply prepared freshwater fish from a Washington or Oregon lake over something from Alaska (altho don't get me wrong, I get my share of the regional saltwater bounty as well).

                                      2) Please be aware that a few of the recs here do not account for the dire state of some of our fish populations. If you live in/near a major city, your local aquarium likely has plenty of info on how to be a more ethical fish consumer. Otherwise, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is probably the most respected source nationally (link below). Keep a copy of their Seafood Watch Pocket Guide in your wallet or purse.

                                      3) Happy eating! As long as you're wiling to endure some trial-and-error, I'm sure you'll find something that will make you wild about fish.


                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                        My two cents:
                                        Since you're eating sushi already, see if you can get an Ahi tuna steak. Dust it on both sides with Cajun seasoning, and sear it on both sides in a pan (watch the smoke detector!). It should still be rare in the middle. Serve with rice and a side veggie.

                                        1. re: aurora50

                                          Another thing you can do is get a piece of halibut or haddock (both readily available in your area, no?), saute very gently and simply in a pan, and top with some dynamite fruit/jalapeno salsa. I can get a recipe for the salsa, if you're interested.

                                        2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                          I agree about the Monterey Bay Aquarium pamphlet. My well-worn copy goes everywhere with me.

                                          Here's their website. I think they have a downloadable list of fish to avoid and fish that are okay.


                                          I just noticed that the Monterey Bay Aquarium says that Target has taken ALL farmed salmon from ALL their stores! Wow!

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            Thank you, I'm downloading the pamphlet. Good for Target, but I had not idea that they even had fish!

                                        3. Oven-fried Catfish Filet: Heat the oven to 425. Roll the filets in bread crumbs (seasoned or not, as you like). Lay the breaded filets on a foil-covered pan to save mess. Bake them for 20 minutes or more until the fish is done, the middle is light golden, and the edges are crunchy. Catfish is mild and sweet so serve it with something that has a stronger character: 1) Sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce; rice; soy sauce or 2) A tomatoey fresh salsa; black beans and rice; hot sauce.

                                          Kpaxonite: also, if you're near a Trader Joe's, try the frozen flounder filet stuffed with crab, which is a steal at $2.98 a portion.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            Thanks, unfortunately there are no Trader Joes in Quebec ...possibly even Canada

                                            1. re: kpaxonite

                                              kpaxonite, what DO you have easily available to you in stores? Maybe, instead of going all over the place, we could give more specific recs to you.

                                          2. Trout is mild and has a lovely taste, is widely available, and comes in easy-to-cook fillets. (Dust with Wondra flour, s&p, and saute in butter over medium heat for a couple of minutes a side -- just until golden.) True red snapper from the Gulf is outstanding, still mild, but with a more interesting texture.

                                            1. Eight inchpestel said it best:"1) Where do you live, what's your access, and what can you spend? I have often found that the best fish, regardless of species, is the most local fish. Even living in Seattle as I do, I will often choose a relatively humble and simply prepared freshwater fish from a Washington or Oregon lake over something from Alaska (altho don't get me wrong, I get my share of the regional saltwater bounty as well)."
                                              I live inland closer to both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and I have eaten a lot of Gulf fish when I lived there. What we get inland can't compare unless the fish monger has his own supply network.
                                              What's good and reasonable here is farm raised catfish. It doesn't require frying but can be lightly sauted in a non-stick pan and it's delicious.
                                              If I had all the money in the world, I'd eat Halibut four times a week and rainbow trout at least twice a month. Then add shrimp and lobster, both of which don't have to be butter delivery systems.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: shallots

                                                What are your favorite ways to cook Halibut?

                                                1. re: shallots

                                                  ditto on the halibut! A halibut roast, perfect on the bbq!

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    Fish consumption has become a complicated matter beyond preferences; there's overfishing and species protection to worry about, and mercury, too:


                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      I know that there is overfishing, but I didn't have a list of all the names of fishes, and what I like is the alternative. Mostly what to stay away from.
                                                      I appreciate the link, the more information the better, thanks!

                                                2. the willingness to appreciate a wide range of food is a sign of maturity and is very enriching (at least to the palette, stomach and soul). it may be a giant leap but it can't get any easier or more healthful than sashimi.

                                                  and i really believe those who won't eat a certain kind of food don't deserve to eat that food anyway.

                                                    1. White ocean fishes: halibut (for splurging), cod, haddock, flounder/fluke (any decently priced, and many obscenely priced, "soles" in the US are really flounders),

                                                      Trout and some other freshwater fishes.



                                                      After you've mastered those, you might like arctic char, which is farmed in freshwater ponds and pools in subarctic regions. It's kind of a bridge between trout and salmon, and wonderful.

                                                      1. Surprised no one has mentioned black cod (aka sablefish or, more relevant to us Quebecers, *morue noir* or *morue charbonnière*). White, flaky yet silky flesh; bones easily dealt with; high in omega 3; withstands overcooking better than some; lends itself to a variety of preparations; and is not endangered (yet...). What's not to like? You'll often find it at Nouveau Falero on Parc just south of Bernard.

                                                        Halibut's another good choice. And if you see halibut cheeks, even better.

                                                        Fillets are usually less fishy-tasting than steaks, I find. Maybe that has something to do with the skin and bones. And freshness makes a huge difference. Really fresh sea fish tastes briny, not fishy. That's one reason why buying whole fish is a good idea; the eyes (should be convex and bright) and gills (should be bright pink-red and clean) are excellent indicators of freshness. Falero gets Mediterranean fish mid-week; hard to find fresher in Montreal outside of restaurants.

                                                        1. Catfish, trout, bluegill, bass (both freshwater and from the sea). red snapper, grouper, perch, and flounder are all nice mild fish. One way I like to cook fish is to top a fillet with crab mixture (such as for stuffed crab or crabcakes), drizzle with a little butter or mild olive oil and bake. Dusting with Wondra and pan-frying in a little butter is nice, too. Broiling is a healthy and quick cooking method. I also like to grill fish. Make a marinade of some olive oil, chopped fresh basil, minced garlic and either lime or lemon juice and zest. Marinate the fish (not too long, you don't want ceviche) and then bake, broil or grill. I tend to serve most fish with lemon or lime wedges. Often a squeeze of citrus really gives a nice taste to the fish.

                                                          One of my most requested ways to cook trout is a method I learned from the now defunct Pioneer Inn in Gatlinburg, TN.

                                                          1 trout, cleaned and boned
                                                          4 sliced mushrooms
                                                          2 sliced green onions
                                                          2 tablespoon butter
                                                          1 tablespoon lemon juice
                                                          1 tablespoon dry vermouth

                                                          Panfry trout in a little butter and keep warm while making sauce. Sauté the mushrooms and green onions in butter until tender. Add lemon juice and vermouth. Pour over trout and serve immediately.

                                                          Not healthy and not something I do very often, but imo some of the best fish are bass, bluegill, catfish or perch, fried the way my grandmother used to cook them. Dust with seasoned cornmeal and fry in hot oil. It's hard to beat fish that are only a couple of hours out of the water.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: decolady

                                                            mmmm, ditto on the fresh caught fish. I love white perch out of the lake, filet right there!

                                                          2. I've been teaching fish for 25+ years, and for a non-fish eater who doesn't like the oiliness of salmon, I'd suggest sole, haddock, and if you're anywhere near sources for freshwater fish, Lake Superior whitefish. None of these will take more than a very few minutes to cook as the fillets are extremely thin.

                                                            As well, if you like cajun flavors, there's nothing that says you can't shake a little Tony Caceres on your fillets....