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Apr 22, 2010 03:19 PM

Recs for more unusual types of fish to try

So, I've recently discovered that certain unwanted tubbiness might be related to all the fruit I eat and various other 'hidden' sugars (I know, fruit suddenly isn't healthy? Jeez.) I have to swap out these sugars for more protein. I won't eat land-animal proteins, but I'm dandy with fish. The only problem is I've only ever cooked tilapia and salmon before, and I need to branch out but don't know where to start.
Any recommendations for more 'adventuresome' types of fish and sea life? I'd prefer types that are on the cheap side. Also, any simple or fast preparations for the fish would be really appreciated. I'll eat anything sea-related so long as it's not the endangered stuff like bluefin or chilean sea bass.
I have an amazing market nearby, so finding a variety of stuff isn't an issue.
Many thanks in advance!

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  1. How about sardines? Yes, the canned kind (well, OR fresh if available in your area)...some would consider it quite normal and everyday but still "special and desired" (like ME and a bunch of others here who love them!) and others would consider them "unusual." Just throwing out an idea for starters...Oh, and "on the cheap side"--sardines are a great buy...for around $1.25 you can obtain a great source of Omega 3's AND still be environmentally safe...they are low on the food chain. Canned salmon will give you even more Omega 3's for 4 ounces but that might be too "usual" for you from your post. Try some sardines!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Yes to sardines! Also, if you can find salt-packed anchovies: rinse off the salt and mince the anchovies with garlic and a handful of fresh mint, mix with a few tablespoonfuls of fresh bread crumbs, quick-cook in olive oil and serve on pasta. Amazing how many people love this without realizing they're eating anchovies. (This works with canned anchovies too, if you rinse them carefully.)

      1. re: elenacampana

        Sardines are great on the grill. Mackrael too.

    2. If you can find fresh clams or mussels, they are pretty easy (and tasty) to make in a white wine sauce.
      Black cod (sablefish) has a nice buttery texture, but isn't really cheap and may be hard to find outside of the West Coast.
      Halibut would be a nice choice - it's a common whitefish used in things like fishsticks, so you may want to try some type of light breading (e.g. Panko) and fry in just a little bit of oil (no need to deep-fry if it's a relatively flat cut.
      Some other fish you may want to try are sea bass (various kinds) and catfish (also various kinds). If you're being health-conscious, probably check to see if they are likely to have high concentrations of heavy metals (e.g. mercury) as would be common for large predatory fish (e.g. tunas), are from fish farms (possibly high in pesticides and toxins -- depends on the farm), or are freshwater (higher chance of pollution).

      Agree with sardines as cheap and healthy. Anchovies are a good choice, too. Smelt and mackerel probably also good as small and relatively cheap fish.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hye

        Halibut is delicious but twice the price of tilapia. Squid is under $5 per pound but most fish is over that. I like monkfish (called "poor man's lobster" not for flavor but texture) but if sauteeing I slice it into medallions so as not to overcook. I'll also endorse skate - sweet and tender. I love bluefish but you have to get past the gray color, and be extra-sure it's very fresh, since it goes off very quickly. My recommendations here are based on taste and do not take mercury or sustainability into account.

        1. re: greygarious

          Understandable - tilapia are very easy to fish-farm as they grow in even very polluted waters, and grow quickly. If there weren't a big market for them as food items, they'd definitely be considered invasive species. (I think some of them are.)

          Re: squid prices - I know a guy who studies squid and apparently had a freezer full of Humboldt from the most recent northward incursion. He was just giving it away, but not sure they would be as suitable for some cooking methods as the more common and smaller market squid.

      2. White fish like cod and scrod and haddock is easy to cook and usually on the cheaper side of the fish spectrum. You can just bake it with a little bit of olive oil and lemon and whatever seasonings you like -- very easy and as long as you make sure not to overcook it you can't go wrong. I also really like squid (calamari) and that is usually very cheap. You can sautee it but be careful not to overcook it. Guess this advice goes for all fish!

        I also want to add: I can't believe FRUIT could make you tubby, unless you're eating like 12 bananas a day, drinking a lot of juice, or eating dried fruits. Fresh, whole fruit is good for you and I would question anyone who tells you to eat less of it. Just my opinion though -- I'm sure plenty of no-carb types would disagree.

        1. Squid might be something to consider. It is inexpensive, delicious and versatile. Some ideas on how to cook it include simply grilled squid with a bit of olive oil (this is great with carmelized onions- Gracias a Jose Andres), grilled with a salty/sweet teriyaki style sauce, stuffed (with tentacles and rice or bread crumbs), stir-fried (especially Korean style), with pasta or rice, in seafood stews, and the list goes on.

          1. I'm on team squid as well. And skate. Skate is cheap, around $5/lb. And very hard to screw up. Overcooked skate is still pretty good (I speak from experience).

            2 Replies
            1. re: small h

              Skate is overfished; I'm mentioning it because the OP specified no fish that are endangered.


              1. re: visciole

                overfished does not equal endangered, just as endangered does not mean governments will do anything about it!