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Fishing for the Best


Me and a friend were recently discussing of all things food, and we hit a snag in the conversation when it came to fish. I'm a huge fan of Tilapia and Snapper, she's a big fan of Salmon hands down. She believes that nothing comes close to a baked piece of salmon, I so beg to differ. So I post the question; Where are you from? What is your favorite fish? How is it best prepared? And what restaurant serves it just the way you like it?

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  1. OK, I'll take the bait . . .

    NJ. Striped Bass. Lightly dusted with flour, sauteed, butter-lemon-garlic pan sauce. Restaurants can't serve it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      This. NJ Striped bass is a marvelous fish.

      Some of my other favorites:

      Butterfish/Sable/Black Cod.
      Patagonian toothfish aka Chilean sea bass
      Korean yellow croaker
      ...and of course, bluefin tuna.

        1. re: Hungrierthanever

          Respectfully, I wish you would confine your love to watching them alive.

      1. Being a Pacific NW'er, I am spoiled when it comes to good, fresh fish. My favorite is salmon, especially Copper River which is available during a limited time in the spring. I don't know if it is marketing hype or if the particulars of swimming in that river really does produce superior salmon. I just know that my mouth waters in anticipation every May. I like it best simply prepared--grilled with butter and lemon.

        1. I grew up in coastal North Carolina, in a family that fishes a lot, both in the brackish rivers/sounds and deep sea near the Gulf stream. I haven't met a fish I didn't like (except the football sized oyster toad I caught few years ago), and only a few preparations I dislike (primarily pickled or fermented). My favorites are flounder and other mild/white fish prepared Calabash style - very lightly breaded with cornmeal and fried. I rarely eat Calabash style seafood in restaurants, there are very few that get it right.

          1. Kind of like choosing a favorite child but I'll bite too.
            I live in Colorado so no regional preference when it comes to the ocean fish. Love salmon (wild-caught Soho or Sockeye is way better than farm-raised Atlantic stuff) seared flesh side down, flipped, seasoned (tarragon butter is nice) and finished in the oven. This is my go-to preparation. Grilled is nice too if cooking outside.

            If I am eating a white fish, I will always choose Halibut, Orange Roughy or even Cod over Tilapia.

            A good cast iron cooked Rainbow, Brown or Brook Trout on the camp fire on a cool morning camping in the mountains for breakfast can be a truly transcendental experience as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LorenM

              I'm a big fan of Tilapia and all the ways in can be prepared , but the first time I tasted Halibut it made me think twice.

            2. Tough to choose between that perfect piece of bluefin toro nigiri (I know, I know), freshly caught pan fried trout and a nice think piece of halibut.

              1. Here goes: Minnesota. Smelt and herring, followed closely by sunfish. Pan fried, with a light crust of whatever - a little flour, or a dip in some potato flakes. While I tend to be a fan of most fish, it's these that make me swoon with fish-love. (How Midwest-y, Great Lakes-y of me!) Smelt fries are a good bet for smelt gluttony, there's a restaurant in Grand Marais, MN (The Angry Trout) that treats herring just the way I love it treated, and as for sunfish...well, I've made very good friends with my fishing aunt and uncle and get my sunnies served up fresh out of the lake. Heaven.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cayjohan

                  I'll definitely have to schedule a trip to MN because what you just described sounds delicious!

                  1. re: Hungrierthanever

                    Oh, do it! Fresh Lake Superior herring is a heavenly treat, and the getting-to-Grand-Marais along the North Shore of Superior is an excellent scenic road trip. If you want smelt, think spring and the smelt runs along the North Shore, although that can be tough to schedule (damn Nature and its capriciousness). And I'm certain our DNR would love to issue you a fishing license. Shore lunch sunnies are sublime! I sometimes wish I were on a coast to take advantage of boat-fresh fish, but I've realized the fish I truly luuurve are right in my near environs. Check it out...it's a nice sort of coast in the middle of the continent!

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Don't forget the perch! Every person should have a freshwater shore lunch at least once in their lifetime.

                      1. re: AdamD

                        My internal choir is singing a heartfelt amen to that, AdamD.

                2. I prefer grouper.

                  Other than that I don't much care, most fish taste the same to me.

                  Don't like salmon though.

                  1. Good fresh salmon, the kind I ate so much of in Alaska, is hard to beat, and even though it's hideously expensive elsewhere a good fresh (or fresh enough) King, whether poached and served cold, stuffed and baked, or simply grilled with lots of butter, lemon and garlic is a real feast. From my own midwestern childhood the variety of sunfish we mostly had was bluegill, and that has to be about the loveliest freshwater fish, both to catch (lively, scrappy little boogers) and to eat. On the Pacific coast we have those swell sand dabs which only we can enjoy, because they don't travel well apparently - too bad for the rest of you! Not a fancy fish at all, but pretty cheap, and when just lightly floured and sautéed in butter a couple of those and some fresh filet beans is a fabulous summer supper.

                    Aside from those, I'll say I really love almost anything BUT tilapia, the most boring fish on the planet, but even those can be rescued if pan-broiled and topped with some pico de gallo and some capers.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Speaking of sand dabs... There was a marvelous restaurant in Chinatown which I frequented for lunch - the now departed (sob) Jackson Cafe. I was sitting at the counter, and the guy working behind the counter was flirting with me (as usual). Then he served up to the next person to my left a marvelous looking and smelling plate of fish. They were a flat fish, cut in large chunks and stir-fried / braised with mushrooms and lots of other things. I asked what it was and was told "fancy cooked sand dabs". It wasn't on the English menu, so I guess they hadn't come up with an English-equivalent name for it. I ordered it, of course, and it was wonderful.

                      It was the first time I ever heard of sand dabs - a junior-sized relative of sole. They are one of my favorites, and when I see them for sale, I'm apt to take them home.

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        That's sounds like a fish I wouldn't mind trying.

                    2. What about mahi mahi? I haven't heard it mentioned yet. I'm not saying it's the best but I've had a few fish tacos at a place in VA called Captain Chuck-A-Mucks. It was my first time tasting mahi mahi and it was pretty fresh and tasty.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Hungrierthanever

                        Yeah, that is a surprise, mahi-mahi is one of my favorites too.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          We like mahi-mahi a lot, but that's another fish that's best just out of the water. I first ate it fresh-caught and grilled on Okracoke Island in the Carolina Outer Banks, with equally-fresh green beans and potatoes from the restaurant's garden. Although I cook it often, the only version I've had to challenge that first one was the fried mahi-mahi, rolled in crushed macadamias, at the Lihue Barbecue restaurant on Kauai. And as there were over thirty years intervening between the two meals, my perceptions could well be skewed.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            I would love to try fried mahi mahi. How does it taste?

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Mahi, Dolphin, is a great all purpose fish, that is why it is so [popular with restaurants. Blackened, fried or grilled it holds up really well. From a good sized fish; a nice thick slab makes a great roasted fish.

                                1. re: ospreycove

                                  grilled or fried for me, thanks.

                                  I like the flavor of blackened, but I've never liked how it hides the flavor of super-fresh mahi.

                                  Just a little butter, salt, and a little lime juice and pull it off the grill JUST before it's done, so the residual heat finishes it to perfection.

                                  My ex and I went on a charter out of Islamorada one year about 2 days after a tropical storm. Holey moley. We got into a school of mack-daddy mahi that were STARVING. The second the bait hit the water, they hit the bait.

                                  We hit our limit, filled two coolers, and tipped the captain with a 40-pounder (he had company coming into town and he wanted the meat to put in his smoker for all the company.)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Nice. It's always fun when you really get into 'em. Any time you get a strike and think "oh no, not again!" you know it's a good day on the water.

                                    One of my favorite ways to cook mahi is to top fillets with a crust of crushed macadamia nuts and panko breadcrumbs moistened with a little coconut milk, then bake until just done. Yum!

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      "One of my favorite ways to cook mahi is to top fillets with a crust of crushed macadamia nuts and panko breadcrumbs moistened with a little coconut milk …" that sounds like how these fried ones were breaded, though I'm sure there'd have been some egg in there. Really nice thing about getting it at Lihue Barbecue is that you can also have lilikoi pie for dessert!!

                                      How did it taste? asks hungrierthanever. Well, like lovely crunchy flavorful fried fish. First, it's gonna taste better than what I get at home because it was probably caught a day ago. Then there's the Farewell Kauai factor (Omigod, last meal here this trip, gotta catch the damn plane) involved with this particular episode, so of course I'm going to savor every bite, at least until Mrs. O starts tapping her watch …

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        I'm definitely going to try fried mahi mahi. What you just described sounds like the best, I'll have to prepare it then tell you about it.

                                        1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                          Well, heck, I may as well do the same, though I'm pretty much stuck with the frozen ones from Trader Joe's. It just so happens that I have some macadamias in the fridge …

                        2. Brook trout. Rolled in corn meal and fried in bacon fat. For breakfast. Streamside.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Don't forget the hot mug of black coffee, Alan. Thanks for the great image which recalled several good memories.

                          2. I'm a Brit living in South Florida and I still would prefer North Atlantic fish to tropical, things like plaice, flounder, haddock, halibut, cod and Dover sole. Most are not available here some or all of the time and I am not a big fan of mahi, snapper, grouper or tilapia, nor farmed salmon so I find myself not cooking much fish these days.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smartie

                              The different ways to prepare the fish you named are endless. There maybe a method of preparation you haven't tried, I encourage you not to give up on the different ways to enjoy the many types of fish.

                            2. When I lived in the Kimberley region of Australia I was spoiled rotten for beautiful, wild (salt AND freshwater) barramundi. Everyone fished in their free time, so there was always more than you knew what to do with. There are three ways I liked it - simple, pan fried with a lemon butter sauce, baked with a chilli soy glaze or the 'wings' crispy fried in a tempura batter with a thai style dressing. Heaven.

                              1. *anything* that is same-day fresh.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  locally, or personally, caught Cobia,Spanish Mackerel, Grouper, Pompano, Wahoo, Dolphin, (fish not mammal, aka mahi-mahi) and Specs,( Sea Trout family), from the bay. Some of these fishes are plentiful only certain times of the year; depending on the migratory habits, water temperature ,etc.

                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                    ospreycove, you and I have the same tastes in fish and usually buy it in the same Florida fish markets. I am hanging my hat in Dallas now, and the supermarkets carry every type of farmed fish known to man, and not much else.
                                    My reaction? Think Edvard Munch and The Scream. Saute a pompano with capers for me while I hope to locate a legitimate fishmonger somewhere around here. Oh, and I haven't seen a wild gulf shimp yet.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Gawd. You two are killing me.

                                      I'm loving living in France, but nothing beats a slab of fresh Gulf fish that was swimming this afternoon. (my folks have a boat, so the menu is usually dictated by what was biting today).

                                      Still mourning the loss of the Seabreeze and her fleet -- nothing better than having them go retrieve a cooler full of shrimp right out of the hold for you because the boat just got to the dock and they haven't even had time to offload yet.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Veggo, try Cap'n Dave's in Plano. Also Kroger's carries frozen gulf shrimp all the time and occasionally has fresh.

                                      2. re: ospreycove

                                        Ospreycove I have family in Florida (Key West) and they introduced me to Mackerel. When fresh Mackerel is one of the best fish to grill.

                                        1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                          Yes, and unfortunately it is one of the fastest to spoil, which is why is is not common commercially and so expensive in sushi restaurants even though it is plentiful in the oceans.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            Veggo, I throw back Spanish Mackerel when wade fishing as they die as soon as you put them on a stringer. I don't want to drag dead mackerel around for four or five hours. My favorite fish I catch on the Texas coast in order are speckled trout, redfish, red snapper, and flounder. I put flounder last because to me it has little taste , like halibut. I also put ling, (cobia) high on the list, although the only one I caught I had to throw back for being a hair small, a tough thing to do. I fry the way my Granny did, skin on trout, redfish and flounder in milk and eggs, rolled in seasoned cornmeal with a touch of flour. Redfish filet and fried , or cooked in the skin halfshell style over charcoal with lemon butter. Freshwater, perch, blue gills, redears or whatever and crappie, all headed, gutted and scaled and fried quickly. Fresh lake or river catfish is also great, something most people don't get to eat with all the farm raised product.

                                        2. re: ospreycove

                                          Pompano is totally under rated. It is downright delicious. Especially if you caught it yourself.

                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                            The cobia are running up here right now, and it's like culinary heaven. For the types with year round availability, we've kind of largely switched over to mahi-mahi because it's a more forgiving fish to cook than grouper or red snapper, which are sublime when they're done perfectly but seem to have much less margin of error in preparation than the mahi does.

                                            And call me unimaginative, but my favorite sushi fish is a nice tuna that seems to melt in my mouth.

                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                              Tuna is a very suculent fish. I'm not big on sushi but grilling or roasting tuna is sublime.

                                        3. I agree, when you have your fish of choice, the perfect compliment will always be a good SHRIMP!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                            hungrier, yup. For a Spanish Mackerel to be really good, it must be put on ice immediately after being caught and served, (grilled/roasted whole, is my preference), that day!!

                                          2. Thought I had an answer until I read all of the other replies... now I have many ;-)

                                            Fresh caught from the beach, flounder, pompano, sea mullet, red drum, for sure. Fresh from the offshore charter, tuna and dolphin. Tuna again for sushi. My roots lie in the upper midwest, so my original answer was going to mention fresh-caught walleye, perch, crappie, bluegill if you can get a nice fillet..... now I want to go fishing.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Cheez62

                                              "bluegill if you can get a nice fillet..." A bunch of us were taken on a weekend fishing trip to a camp in Indiana with a lake that had become grossly overstocked with bluegill. They were biting on unbaited hooks! We brought home two galvanized washtubs full, and each of us got something like 20-30 of them when we were dropped off at our homes. Mom and Dad and I got busy and cleaned them, then Mom did the egg-and-cornmeal thing and fired up the skillet. There were just two good bites to each fish, one per side, but with fresh corn and some potato salad that was an awfully good supper!

                                              1. re: Will Owen


                                                Grew up on an inland Indiana lake, so summertime meant a steady diet of bluegill, silvers, largemouth bass, perch, and catfish.

                                                My mom and grandma used finely-crushed saltine cracker crumbs. Dredge in flour, dip in milk and egg, then into the cracker crumbs, then into hot oil just until golden.

                                                That, sliced tomatoes, and fresh sweet corn -- all that and a bag of chips, man.

                                            2. Got some freshly caught striper bass in my fridge RIGHT NOW. Caught yesterday. How should I cook it today?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: shaebones

                                                Yes, it seems that Striper season is upon us. Good news.

                                                My personal preference for cooking big bass would be to take a portion of a skin-on filet and pan fry/sautee it. I normally take the fish out and let it get close to room temperature. It's salted and peppered on both sides and then lightly dusted with flour. I have a pan on medium-high with a neutral oil. The fish goes in, skin side down until browned. Flip and continue to cook. Time will depend on the thickness of the filet, but touch and opacity are good guides.

                                                When the filet is nearly done, say 6-8 minutes or so, I add a large pat of butter and, frequently, some chopped shallots and/or garlic. As the butter melts and starts to gently brown, it should be spooned over the filet. Remove the filets and add a splash of wine or lemon juice to the pan. Some chopped parsley is stirred into the pan after it's turned off and the sauce is spooned over the filet on the plate.

                                                But, that's just me . . .

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  Mmmmmm, that sounds so good. Think I'll throw a few capers in to the mix too. :)

                                              2. German-born and raised. Hated cooked fish as a kid (like most kids, I had a fishbone issue...) until my first pan-fried whole trout in Austria. Still love grilled whole trout, though I find mackerel has more flavor.

                                                *Always* loved herring in all shapes and forms -- pickled, salted, herring salad, rollmop, etc. etc. Must be my German roots.

                                                Love salmon, red snapper, butterfish, sardines, pike perch.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Striped Bass on the smaller end of legal size, when gutted, scaled preped for the grill is my fav way of cooking. Season just with S & P and olive oil, stuff the cavity with lemon, fresh marjoram or what ever you like. Flip over only once. Let rest and serve. WOW!!

                                                2. For Apple fans, Seafood Watch is an app worth having...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. In no particular order

                                                    Chiliean Sea Bass (or Patagonia toothfish)
                                                    Pacific Rock Cod
                                                    Wild Copper River King Salmon
                                                    Bluefin tuna

                                                    But at the end of the day, it's probably easier to list fish that will I not eat, such as tilapia, farmed salmon, steelhead trout.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      I agree with the tiapia, farmed salmon, etc. and will add, while not fish but shellfish, farmed shrimp, and pasteurized or pressure treated oysters. Vile products.

                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                        I'll add to that list, "wet" scallops. Ick.

                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                          Those treated oysters are beyond revolting.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            I had just rolled into New Orleans and went to Deanie's in Bucktown for some oysters, fried food and boiled crawfish. That's where I had my first treated oyster, and then a couple came in fresh off the road from Las Vegas, saw my oysters, and asked how they were. I told him they were pasteurized from Florida, and advised him to drive away, quickly. I like to think I did my good deed for that day. This was March, before Katrina, so no reason for that product. The crawfish were terrible, fried food good.

                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                              They just get unspeakably vile when they do that to them. I'd rather risk a bad one (only one in almost 30 years of happy oyster eating so far). I want them alive and kicking.

                                                      2. Most talapia and salmon are genetically modified farm raised fish vastly inferior to their wild counterparts. Here in Maine we go for local haddock, pollack and flounder along with lobster, crab and those tasty little Maine shrimp. The further you are from the ocean, the more luck you need!

                                                        1. Looking forward to the local fluke catch.
                                                          Usuzukuri anyone?

                                                          1. Fried, Dover sole meuniere.
                                                            Grilled, striped bass.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Fried, Dover sole meuniere.


                                                              Would you enjoy Dover sole prepped another way?

                                                              I enjoy true Dover sole very much, but not necessarily a la Meuniere. As blasphemous as it may sound, I really enjoy Dover sole as fish 'n chips.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                That is blasphemous. But it's probably really good too!

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Grilled with lots of butter, and I mean Dover sole Dover sole, not some other flatfish tarted up with the name. For fish and chips, give me skate.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    Sole is such a delicate, versitile fish which lends itself to so many preperations. I really dig sole florentine, sole au gratin, sole roasted in parchment with dill lime butter, and white wine. The thin fillets are great for sandwiching other ingredients between them including other types of seafood (shrimp, crab, etc.). I almost forgot how good it is!

                                                                    1. re: LorenM

                                                                      I love the texture. And the sweetnss. I want some now.

                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                      I love skate for fish and chips. If we didn't have such good seafood in Australia I'd almost be sad we can't get it here.

                                                                      1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                        Ooohh, fried skate - what a great idea! Not that I'm exactly tired of raie au beurre noir …

                                                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                          Skate? In fish 'n chips? The skate wings that sometimes appear at local fish counters have a serrated piece of cartilage for their framework, with a layer of meat on each side. I can't imagine how that would work in a deep-fried fish format.

                                                                          1. re: Sharuf

                                                                            Had it at the Golden Hind in London, off the cartilage. I really quite love skate in any preparation.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                              how did it hold together? (It's so tender and fragile off the cartilage...trying to imagine this one)

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Perfectly well. Nice batter, not too thick. I was impressed and enjoyed it very much (was a chippie for a while in high school and university and have been exposed to the best - but the skate was really super).

                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                  Yum. I love skate and ray wings, but abhor the work to get them cleaned, so I usually only eat it in a restaurant.

                                                                                  Can't eat flat fish (flounder, sole, and cousins) so I stick to the cod and haddock and other roundfish.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    I've bought skate at Fish King in Glendale, all cleaned and ready to go, for about $15/lb, and skin-on for a third of that at one of our Asian markets, and they ARE the devil to skin! Then I found out the deal with the Asian markets is that you buy the fish and pay for its original weight, then they will do anything from cleaning to cooking for free!

                                                                                    I have to assume that skate for F&C would have to be cut from the thicker part of large wings … or else fried first and then pulled off the cartilage? Those who have had this please let us know!

                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                      It was a fairly large and thickish fillet (actually two, the size of a nice big piece of haddock for f&c).

                                                                  2. My sentimental favorite, as a native Marylander is Chesapeake Bay rock fish- which most of the world calls striped bass. I like to have a cross-section of the fish pan fried or lightly sautéed.

                                                                    Having spent most of my adult life in Japan, it’s difficult to narrow down my favorite fishes and dishes. But here’s a not so short list…

                                                                    As sashimi:

                                                                    -fattened wild winter yellowtail from the Sea of Japan, called “buri”
                                                                    -chu-toro blue fin tuna (I prefer chu- to o-toro)
                                                                    -zuke-akami blue fin (this is red meat marinated in soy sauce)
                                                                    -raw or flame-seared kinmedai (golden-eyed snapper)
                                                                    -aji or saba (two types of mackerel) served raw (not pickled) with scallions, grated ginger and dipped in soy sauce
                                                                    -thick slabs of katsuo (bonito) piled with scallion, grated ginger or raw garlic, and dipped in soy sauce
                                                                    -inada, which is a very young wild yellowtail

                                                                    -Just too many to list.

                                                                    -kinmedai or tai (sea bream), simmered in a slightly sweet aromatic soy sauce and sake mixture
                                                                    -kinki (There is no English equivalent. It’s a fatty white meat deep sea fish from northern pacific). Simmered in the same sauce as above.

                                                                    -Any above mentioned mackerel, kinmedai, kinki grilled with sea salt
                                                                    -Shishamo. These are little smelt, usually pregnant with eggs, that are grilled and eaten whole. Great with beer!
                                                                    -Unagi. Grilled and basted on the beach and eaten as a sandwich.

                                                                    -Teriyaki was devised as a baste or glaze for fish. The aforementioned buri is a comfort food classic. There’s aslo a fish called mero- which I don’t know how to say in English- that also cooks up nicely in teriyaki glaze
                                                                    -Miso basted silver cod (often called black cod in the U.S.) is another beauty of a dish

                                                                    -Iwashi dango (sardine dumpling balls in light broth)
                                                                    -Marinated and sun-dried butterfish
                                                                    -Kisu tempura (splayed and fried whiting)
                                                                    -semi-frozen, marinated salmon served Ainu style
                                                                    -shirasu (baby whitefish) tempura

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                        Nope, grouper is called "grouper" in Japanese....Just looked it all up- "Mero" is "ginmutsu" (more commonly used term in Japanese). In English, "Patagonian Toothfish" or "Chilean Sea Bass."

                                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                                          I noticed that when I Googled and was a bit confused because mero in Mexico is generally grouper. I say generally because inferior fish are often fraudulently sold as grouper, in Mexico AND in the US. Chilean sea bass would never be called mero in Mexico because it is MORE expensive than grouper. Oh, well.

                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                            I was Googling "mero" and "fish" in Japanese ("メロ" & "魚"), came across the Japanese wiki page for the fish, which in turn cited the Japanese Marine Fisheries Development Center website (http://jamarc.fra.affrc.go.jp/index.h... idea about the state of things in Mexico. In Japan ginmutsu is usually cooked with the skin and not just filleted, so it's tough to fake.

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                                              Mero in Mexico should be black or red grouper, which yield 2 good tasting filets of 1 or 2 portions each. Nassau grouper which are much larger (up to 3 or 4 feet) and have little flavor, are too often cut into steaks and masqueraded as mero. Some areas restrict their fishing but enforcement is difficult. Goliath grouper, formerly known as jewfish, are restricted as to their taking. Beautiful creatures; there is a famous colony of goliaths that hang out at a cut in the Great Barrier Reef and I had a chance to visit on a dive.

                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                Now that sounds awesome. Diving around a couple of big grouper is fun enough but a colony? That sounds amazing!

                                                                      2. re: Silverjay

                                                                        Of the whole spectrum you've cited, what is your absolutely favorite one single piscine delight?

                                                                        1. re: DPGood

                                                                          A very verbose way of asking, yes. Since Silverjay posted so many, I was wondering which was the tip top one.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            As a cooked bite, it would be the salt grilled belly area of kinki, with a pinch of juice from sudachi citrus fruit. Simple, elemental, full of fish flavor. There is a restaurant I have been dining at for years that when I reserve ahead of time, they procure fresh kinki for me. I'm kind of the kinki guy I guess.?.?. As a single raw bite, why chu-toro of course- with very good quality soy sauce. But last December I was served amazing winter yellowtail sushi. The fish gets fat in the cold swirling currents in the Sea of Japan. Wow! Amazing single bite. I ordered it repeatedly.....Having said this, I wouldn't stick my nose up at a big bite of a fresh fried Florida grouper sandwich....

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                                              All I can say is, yum. Or oishii, I suppose.

                                                                        2. Super lucky girl here…husband is a fisherman in Bermuda and my mom was a fisherman in Florida and Montauk….

                                                                          Some of my favorites…

                                                                          Wahoo, drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill for a few minutes each side, it will dry out quickly!
                                                                          Cobia, pan seared with some white wine garlic butter and lemon, super simple super delish
                                                                          Tripletail, under rated fish, great grilled or pan seared with lemon butter and capers
                                                                          Hog Snapper, depending on size…whole on the grill!
                                                                          Tuna, blackened pan seared rare served with soy dipping sauce and wasabi!
                                                                          Dorado or Mahi Mahi – (the Hawaii name) - blackened
                                                                          Bonito – marinated in Italian dressing and placed on foil on the grill
                                                                          Rainbow Runner – seared on a flat top or grilled

                                                                          I personally stay away from frying fish, why? The flavor of all the fish above are so wonderful why would you want to cover in a batter and fry, killing the flavor? Keep it simple, clean and fresh !

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                                                                            Great list... but one could quibble that white wine, garlic, lemon butter, marinating in Italian dressing, blackening, etc. contradicts your "Keep it simple, clean and fresh!" mantra. And I think a nicely fried fresh fish can maintain a simple fresh taste, while also have the interesting consistency of fried crunchy outside and flakey inside. That's a nice contrast sometimes if done well and the frying can sometimes create an confit effect with fattier fish ...Have to look up tripletail. Never heard of that!

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                                              The fish are not drowing in the sauces or flavors, they are drizzled on, blackened is not coated but yet just a hint. And as for the marinating in Italian dressing, again very light, you do not soak in it all day, 15 mins tops. And yes, many times I have taken fish that either I or my husband has caught that afternoon and placed in the grill with nothing but a squeeze of lemon.

                                                                              All in all these are my personal tastes, I am not saying never fry fish, I would rather have it any other way than fried any day, but agian, that is my PERSONAL taste...

                                                                          2. I happen to enjoy the same Japanese fish as Silverjay and agree that those preps bring out some of the best flavors (raw, marinated, or cooked).

                                                                            But I'll chime in on two countries that have their own wealth of local seafood resources, Hong Kong (inclusive of South China seas), and Taiwan. It is very hard to nail down particular favorites, because they are unique in their own way: texture, taste, preparation.

                                                                            I'm not a huge fan of milkfish overall, also known as bangus in the Philippines, but in Taiwan (particularly Tainan in the south), there are restaurants that specialize in multi course meals of milkfish that can be quite delicious, and the chefs are trained to use special knife skills to debone (and there are probably thousands of them in one fish alone). Parts of the fish can be served different ways, like the head usually for soup in a light broth with ginger. The salt and pepper grilled belly is fatty and delicious with a lemon wedge, and the meat can be made into fishballs. While I am not into shark meat at all (one of very few countries that consume shark and not just for the fin), Danshui in Taipei, is very famous for shark meat fishballs (with juicy minced pork stuffed inside). It would probably take several encylopedias to go through all the fish around that region...

                                                                            Similarly to Hong Kong and Southern China, most fresh fish in Taiwan enjoy the best preparation of a simple yet carefully controlled steaming procedure. The Taiwanese particularly enjoy adding a layer of oil on top of the steamed fish, and at times shaving scallions and ginger on top and a light soy sauce. The steamed fish soy sauce receipe is a bit stronger for Hong Kong Cantonese. This is particularly true for most deep sea fish, with exceptions. There are some deep sea fish species that are very difficult to steam, and perhaps are easier or more convenient to be stir fried.

                                                                            Some Hong Kong Cantonese style seafood restaurants do well by offering a whole live fish and allow the customer (at a cost) to choose 2 to 3 different courses out of it. One of them could be a creamy rich broth where the body of the fish is incorporated, and sometimes they add tofu, century egg, and vegetable (sometimes Chinese mustard greens). When done right, this prep can be out of this world. Other parts of the body (boneless filets) could be stir fried with mixed vegetables. Another fantastic way is to take the gelatinous and fattier parts of the fish (mostly around the head and belly), chop them up, and put it in with Cantonese style roast pork (siu yok, not bbq pork cha siu), garlic, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, tofu (with the skin on), add some "chu hau" sauce (similar to darkened beef brisket bean paste sauce), and roast the whole sucker in a claypot. As for the claypot prep, it can be done with some sort of rock cod or equivalent.

                                                                            Some like deep fried flounder, like Anthony Bourdain had in the basement of NY's Hop Kee, which seems to be more American Chinatown kind of dish than it is commonly seen in Hong Kong, but not on the top of my list.

                                                                            Recently in Hong Kong, due to the depletion of certain deep sea fish varieties (I can't even name them in English as they have wacky Chinese names and I'd have to spend hours searching for latin or scientific name if available online) in the last 20 to 30 years, a new movement has begun to eat a certain category of fish from the sea (wild) that are somewhat small, boney, and akin to fisherman's food, but is starting to enjoy gourmet status by people in the know, as well as the chefs who excel in preparing them. Some of these are best enjoyed via steaming, but a portion of them require steaming in seawater or salt water to preserve the original "ocean" flavor, sometimes with dried orange peel and maybe some chili pepper julienne slices. The rest would be a combination of stewing or stir frying with Chinese celery, preserved/pickled vegetables.

                                                                            One of my childhood favorites is a small white bait or fishling. They are transparent when alive, and when stir fried immediately turn white. Fantastic with or without egg, and it's like a poor fisherman's meal over steamed rice. In Cantonese this is translated as "white rice fish", pretty much sums up this quick and easy comforting prep. Perhaps similiar to shirauo or shirasu in Japan. Some Cantonese restaurants in the USA might do a deep fried salt and pepper version of this, but substitute smelt for it instead (which are much much bigger). A little bit bigger and I would rather eat salt grilled Japanese shishamo that are bigger and the females could be carrying a ton of roe.

                                                                            A very popular fish prep in Southern China (Shunde area) is to take a local freshwater fish (I think it is just called "Dace"), where they carefully remove the meat inside the fish (and the bones), and try to keep the skin and head mostly intact. They grind up the meat and make it into a paste for fishballs, then stuff it with dried shrimp, mushroom, preserved sausage, and other ingredients, then stuff it back into the cavity of the body, rest the whole fish on a bed of tofu, cook or steam then serve.

                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                              That Shunde dish sounds great, Mister fish avatar - you obviously know your stuff.
                                                                              I really learned to eat fish in Taipei. Everything was so fresh there, you couldn't help but like it. Pomfret (pan-fried Taiwanese or grilled with coconut and spices at an Indonesian restaurant). Salt-grilled mackerel (a legacy of the Occupation, I expect). Yellow fish two ways (being asked by a saucy waitress if we wanted head or tail while pointing to the respective parts of her anatomy). The list is endless. I am so glad I lived there when I did.

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Here's a variant of the Shunde stuffed fish, this one is actually fried/deep fried, and looks more like a fish meatloaf, where the interior is fish mixed with pork meat. Cilantro is of course vital as part of the prep.


                                                                              2. re: K K

                                                                                Bravo! Now I have fish post envy. All sounds great. Let me see if the system will let me post some of my fish photos from last few years....

                                                                                1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                  @ Buttertart, Taiwan actually has mackeral farms of their own! Along with eel which actually gets exported to Japan. And to actually backtrack, Japan actually occupied Taiwan well before WWII (look up Treaty of Shimonoseki), but as to when the Japanese food influence actually spread in TW is another discussion which I have no knowledge of. During our last trip to Taipei, we randomly bought this canned mackeral (all it has is julienne ginger in it), and it was one of the best things I ever had.

                                                                                  Oh yeah pan fried pomfret...definitely a SE Asian (and Hong Kong) DIY fish...can't go wrong. The ones over there are huge...versus the kind you see "freshly dead on ice" at the Chinese supermarkets in California.

                                                                                  I'll have to look around for pictures of the new fish movement in HK...and post them up when I have a moment.

                                                                                  Another very old school Cantonese dish making the rounds in Hong Kong low to mid end dining scene is basically baked fish intestines. Sounds nasty, but it is a very labor intensive prep (mostly involving the washing and cleaning of the intestines and liver), mixed in with chicken eggs, scallions, dried fruit peel (usually orange), fried crullers (yoh tiao), pepper. The mixture is first wok fried in high heat, then put into a cast iron or claypot and then heated some more (sometimes in the oven). Sometimes the prep starts with steaming, then deep frying, followed by oven baking to finish it off.

                                                                                  @ Silverjay.....great pics! Truly centerfold spreads for Fishboy and Fishhouse magazine. If not sakana hentai material :-)

                                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                                    The salt-baked prep is Japanese through and through, though - before 1895 there wouldn't have been much food crosspollenization, I don't think. (Asian history is our bread and butter, that's why we were in Taipei.)
                                                                                    Another lovely memory - steamed turbot with duo jiao in Shanghai (Hengshan Café) - so fresh it still had that turbot goo on its fins. Heaven.

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      Salt baked or salt grilled/shioyaki?

                                                                                      Now salt baked...that term in Cantonese is typically referring to the famous Hakka Cantonese salt baked chicken.

                                                                                      But there is a regional Cantonese take on salt baked whole fish which is another delicious homey prep. I can't remember the exact name and origin, but you basically take a whole freshwater fish, clean/gut/descale, put ginger and scallion on it. You can dress it with some oil, or butter if you wish, then wrap the fish in aluminum or tin foil. Take a huge mound of coarse salt and heat it up in a wok with the lid covered (to a specific temperature). Then put the foil wrapped fish inside and bake it with salt covered on top, then put the lid over, for....I dunno 20 mins, and when it is done, the fish should be quite splendid.

                                                                                      Silverjay is there a Japanese variant of this prep?

                                                                                      It is interesting to read blogs and newsprint in Hong Kong and Taiwan (or other parts of Asia for that matter) or even streaming video clips of local programming on the various youtube type spinoff sites, particularly around fresh seafood. By staying in tune, you will find that locals in the know just pay attention to the seasons, what is available around the fish markets during different times of the year, and even go so far as to ask some of the vendors (a few are fishermen themselves, spend a lot of time at sea and eating their favorite catches, the cheap and good stuff) and immediately they can find out what are the best tastiest buys as the best ways to prep and enjoy the fresh catches. It is building this knowledge base, as well as knowing even more about whether the fish is farmed, wild, freshly dead on ice (etc), the key to enjoying fresh seafood at its fullest in this part of the region (and earn bragging rights as to being a true gourmet) vs talking about it like me :-)

                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                        I don't really know any preparation like that. Usually salted fish is grilled, not baked or steamed. Baking isn't a big part of Japanese cuisine in general. And they wouldn't use oil or butter... The foil tent steam prep I'm most familiar with is with salmon, white miso, mirin or sake, and mushrooms. Maybe something green as well. It's kinda considered Hokkaido style, but a lot things with salmon are attributed to Hokkaido regional cuisine.

                                                                                        As to your last paragraph, I can't speak to Chinese countries, but in Japan, the general public- meaning even the sort of average diner- has a much more attuned sense of seasonality and regionality regarding seafood than here in the U.S.- no doubt attributable to the fact that they're an island nation. But personally, I've always enjoyed talking up Chesapeake Bay seafood glory stories with my Japanese friends!

                                                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                          Grilled kinki, kinmedai sashimi, fresh kinki on sale.

                                                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                            Gotta agree with you. Buri belly at the peak of season and bluefin chu toro (perfect balance of flavor and fat) is pretty much my top 2. Aji at it's best is a close 3rd. I must say I also really enjoy sayori both as sushi and deep fried.

                                                                                            The kinki you show is much smaller than the kinki I've been dining on recently. Sushi Shibucho in Orange County, California consistently has kinki...unfortunately, only as sushi. I find it a bit chewy as sushi and not nearly as delicious as kinmedai sushi.

                                                                                            Given your rec, I'm racking my head for an appropriate way to ask if they'll do a grilled or at least aburi version. I'd hate to insult the guy. He appears to be very traditional...which could be either a good thing or a bad thing.

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                              The only time I had kinki nitsuke was at Tanto in San Jose 8 years ago (now replaced by an Osaka style izakaya specializing in ...harumonyaki / grilled offal), and it was excellent...although $20 to $25 for a whole small fish (and boney). The other prep they had was "stewed", but it was more like fried then plastered with a thick sauce and served with assorted veggies. Nijiya would carry random packaged blocks /cuts (no head no tail etc) at times but it smelled uber fishy..... the English name was hard head, containing either one or both words, or something wacky like that.

                                                                                              I don't get the fascination with aburi kinmedai, seems to be catching on in Taipei high end Japanese restaurants (that also do sushi, kappo / ko-ryori)...just give me a raw fatty piece with skin on (properly treated of course prior) and it's all good.

                                                                                        2. re: K K

                                                                                          My misappelation, sorry - shioyaki, this was at the Meizi Taiwanese restaurant that was on the same street as Ching Yeh (lane off Linshen Nan Lu, I believe - still so weird to use Pinyin for Taibei locations). Very Japanese.
                                                                                          I've had Hakka salt-baked chicken before but not fish.

                                                                                          I'd love some links to blogs if you have the time.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            In Southern Taiwan, there's a local street delicacy that's made with a species of the Indo-Pacific king mackeral, deep fried and somehow the insides made very puffy, airy, light (and insanely delicious), then dunked in a yam starch thickened broth enriched with bonito flakes (to give it a smokey presence), of which the locals call it Tu Tuoh Yu Gunh 土魠魚焿, at around US$1 or a shade north for a humble portion, easily available at most night markets around the island (but it supposedly tastes better in the south where the fish is in abundance and harvested/caught). I'm sure I had a few that were enhanced with MSG as I felt quite thirsty afterwards (but it definitely went down good).

                                                                                            Found some online Taiwan fish database that's quite outrageous for the fish geeks in us, for this particular fish


                                                                                            Poke around that site and there's a wealth of info (although navigation is horrendous).

                                                                                            There are equivalent kind of Japanese sites out there for Japanese specific fish in Japan, geared towards marine life, marine biologists, and of course the fish wholesalers. Too bad I didn't bookmark them properly.

                                                                                    2. re: Silverjay

                                                                                      I absolutely love fresh shirauo with ginger. Unfortunately it seems to be very hard to find in the states.

                                                                                  2. i enjoyed this entire discussion. This weekend my family is a having gathering and grilling will be involved I will be using a lot of the tips learned from this discussion. Thanks to everyone!