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Oct 7, 2012 09:58 AM

Fish Bones - What's the big deal?

I'm watching Masterchef AU and during an episode, the chef finds a tiny fish bone and gives the obligatory chef 'you almost ended my life with a teeny tiny fish bone' look.

Growing up in Africa, we tend to cook and eat whole fish. Of course, this is generally not served to children for fear of choking but adults eat this all the time. Nothing more delicious than a whole fish seasoned and cooked over a flame or even fried. I love the crispy tails. :)

Not trying to be controversial, but I find this averse reaction to fish bones very common amongst Caucasian-dominant countries (think US, UK, AU).

My question is what's the big deal? If you eat a little slowly, enjoying a whole fish is probably one of the most delicious meals - eye balls and all. LOL

This is probably why I never ordered a filleted piece of fish at a restaurant. It's akin to ordering a pre-chewed meal.

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  1. bones = calcium - think sardines......

    now serving the head .... now that's another matter..............

    3 Replies
    1. re: Clams047

      It's all depends on the kind of fish though. The head of a salmon would not taste as good as catfish because catfish has more fat, but catfish is one funny looking fish and it's just too large.

      Deep-fry tilapia head and that's good eating.

      Mackerel - not so much as it's a little too smelly for me. I oven-roasted mackerel once until it had a similar feel of fried fish. While tasty, my condo had a funk for 2 days.

      1. re: nikkib99

        I once saw Andrew Zimmern eat a large tuna head especially prepared for him by a master sushi chef. I was pretty jealous. My Asian friends love fish heads, they say it's the best part, especially the eyes. :-)

        1. re: Tudor_rose

          I LOVE the eyes! I the fish is either broiled or fried, that's the best because the outside is a but crunchy and inside has a bit of a chalky feel. hehehe

          The tails and fins are awesome too. When I roast catfish or tilapia in the oven, I let it go a little longer so the tails and fins crunch up a bit.

    2. The 'no bone' rule is probably strongest in the fine dining/chef school world, where leaving pin bones is a sign that the chef (or an assistant) didn't take enough care in preparing the fish. That's certainly the sense that I get from Chopped episodes.

      On Iron Chef America someone like Morimoto can get by with intentionally serving bones. But that's partly his Japanese background, and his own skill at doing it correctly.

      1. Ever had a fish bone caught in your throat? Ever heard a line cook tell the chef the fish bones don't need to be removed? LOL

        1. Part of it is strong Anglospheric table etiquette about that limit the direct use of fingers in transporting food to (or from) the mouth and also the removing of items once in the mouth.Other cultures, for example, permit polite spitting out of fish bones.

          1. It depends on how the fish is served. When a small fish is served whole, bones are expected. When a large fish is cut down to individual servings, the bones should be removed.