HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Fish Recommendations

I've decided I need to eat more fish. Problem is, I don't like fish. That heavy "fishy" taste does me in every time.

Can anyone recommend and good mild fish that I can try?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. First you need to buy only the freshest fish. Fish with white flesh tends to be more 'neutral' tasting.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Puffin3

      In some instances, "freshest" = frozen. Cod and halibut are among the mildest of fish as is sole. Cod and halibut are pretty broadly available frozen - sole doesn't freeze well.

      1. re: ferret

        I second this thumbs-up for frozen fish, when the freezing and the thawing both are done appropriately.

        I thaw fish on a bed of Ice in the fridge; takes twice as long to thaw, but the texture is improved by the fact that the juices from thawing drain away from the fish into the ice. FIsh thawed in its own juices is compromised somehow, it seems.

        edit: as for varieties, I suggest cod and tilapia for starters. Try out this website, too, if you're concerned to avoid overfished or otherwise stressed species:


        1. re: Bada Bing

          I freeze and thaw yellowfin tuna all of the time and it's still wonderful. Also, I think all of the tuna available to me has been frozen beforehand anyway.

          1. re: Bada Bing

            I second the tilapia recommendation. It doesn't have a fishy flavor at all. I also concur on the frozen fish unless you go to a reputable fish monger. As good as fish like salmon and tuna are, they are very oily, which makes them have a strong flavor, so I would skip those. Also, I would find some good sauce recipes. A good sauce can cover up some of what you don't like about the fish.

      2. Flounder, tilapia and farm raised catfish are all mild fish which take on other flavors well. Cod and haddock would in the next tier.

        You didn't mention why you want to increase your fish consumption. If your motivation is to include more Omega 3's in your diet mild flavored fish are not going to be the answer. A high Omega 3 content = oily fish = more strongly flavored (salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout).

        Fish, especially oily ones, need to be very fresh. Find a good fish shop with high turnover. Depending upon your location you may find frozen to be your best option.

        7 Replies
        1. re: meatn3

          Ironically, I've loved canned tuna since I was a kid

          1. re: JeffroCGC

            If you love canned tuna, but don't like "fishy" taste, just wait until you try fresh tuna. Raw is even better!
            The fresher the fish, the better it should be.

            1. re: gordeaux

              It is most amazing! I literally have it at least once a week. I will either make poke/tuna tartare (raw mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, green onion) or quick sear 45 seconds/side. It is a wonderfully flavored fish.

              1. re: gordeaux

                Disagree. Hate fresh tuna, and raw is the worst. Canned tuna is almost like another food entirely.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  I love both canned and fresh tuna. To me they are two distinct foods though.

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Badly (i.e. overcooked, not seared) fresh tuna can taste or take on more of the consistency of tinned tuna, but agree, they are two rather distinct foods and can work well in different recipes, e.g. tinned tuna is great in pasta or stuffing things, whereas a perfectly cooked tuna or sashimi is a thing of beauty on its own.

                    1. re: pj26

                      Absolutely, 2 distinct foods and I prefer each for different uses but defintly like both. +1 on the tinned tuna in pasta, stuffings, warps. For a quick meal, I'll saute some tinned tuna, add marinara, zucchini, toss in pasta. Also, love tuna wraps with any sort of toppings, spinach, cheese, etc. I usually eat seared tuna on its own with either side vegetable or scallops but also can be used in a salad or as a sandwich.

          2. I love yellowfin tuna - either seared with some lemon juice, pepper and salt or a quick marinade with soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger.

            1. Agree with the white flaky fish like flounder but it must be fresh. Always ask to smell it. If it smells like the ocean / salt water with no pungent smells then its fresh. If it has an unpleasant pungent smell and you crinkle your nose and pull your nose away from it your smelling old fish that will taste fishy regardless of what type of fish it is. Size also matters. A fresh 10 lb stripped bass has a very delicate flavor but often a 40 lb fresh striped bass will not.

              1. Down here, mahi-mahi (aka dolphin fish) is a nice mild white fish. Grouper and red snapper are also pretty mild, but are going to be more expensive.

                1. Life is short so, if I were the OP, I wouldnt be looking to eat something I don't like.

                  But plaice is a very mild flat fish that lends itself to being cooked as it is, or rolled aorund a filling of something that might be to the OP's taste

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Harters

                    Plaice isn't readily available in the US, at least not under that name. (I believe the OP is American.) Flounder and sole are similar flatfish that are easy to find and can be prepared as you suggest. They would both be good choices for someone wanting a mild flavored fish..

                  2. What you should be looking for when buying fresh fish (assuming the fish is not alive at that point):

                    - Eyes clear and convex (not cloudy). 

                    - Gills are a nice bright colour with no mucus

                    - Fish smell salty and clean - not fishy (fishy smell is a dead give-away of decay)
- Fish are in a state of rigour (rigour sets in early and then lasts for a short period depending on fish - so if a fish is out of rigour decay has started)

                    Prawns on the other hand break down within about 4 hours if they are not "frozen" (not sure about put on ice but not completely frozen). After death an enzyme is released which starts breaking down prawns quickly.... best if you can get them from a tank - but failing that - on ice or frozen can be better quality.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: sr44

                        Just scored under 15 ct wild Louisiana gulf browns for $7.95 lb. at Rest. depot. This is a banner shrimp season. ENJOY!!!!!!

                    1. I love snapper, terakahi and john dory, which are fairly mild flaky white fish, but not sure if they are widely available where you live? ? Since moving to the UK many years ago from NZ, I have eaten a lot less fish, mostly because of the expense and I am less keen on cod and haddock type fish.

                      1. I'll echo the need for freshness -- find a good fish counter at a local market; if the area around it smells "fishy", leave.

                        Flounder, tilapia, grouper are all good choices. I'd work up to Tuna; it can be a bit daunting for a beginner. Beachmouse is also correct about dolphin / mahi.

                        1. I was going to recommend grouper but I see you live in New England. I like fish that tend to eat crabs over fish that tend to eat other fish, seems to me fish flesh tastes like whatever that fish tends to eat.

                          Would probably go for fresh flounder given where you live. Beware of frozen flounder that they sell in stores, it could be arrow tooth flounder from the north pacific which is virtually inedible Halibut and cod are good too.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: redfish62

                            Bearing in mind that both cod and halibut are overfished in the northeast.

                          2. You're not going to find a 'fresh fish' still with it's gills at a quality fish market. The gills are the first things to begin rotting. Beware. A quick dip in a bit of bleach with lots of water or a few drops of lemon juice in a lot of water removes the 'gas' on the fish's skin. It's this 'gas' that makes a fish 'smell fishy'. This trick is used in MILLIONS of restaurants around the world.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Puffin3

                              Millions? Really? According to whom?

                              1. re: jmckee

                                Ok not "millions". More like millions of times. I do not believe there is a restaurant that serves 'fresh fish' that isn't located right where the fishing boats tie up and literally hand the fish to the kitchen that hasn't used the old lemon juice in water to 'wash' the fish trick to remove the 'fishy' smell.
                                Any restaurant that's located in two thousand miles from the water that the fish was caught in isn't serving 'fresh fish'. 'Fresh frozen' then thawed maybe. Depending on the type of fish and how long it was until those fish were 'frozen' determines the quality of the fish.

                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  "Any restaurant that's located in two thousand miles from the water that the fish was caught in isn't serving 'fresh fish'."

                                  That's simply not true. You can get fish from a boat to any location in the world in under 24 hours. Most coastal restaurants, unless they have a direct relationship with the fisherman, also go through wholesalers and don't get it "fresh off the boat." But I'll put Chicago's finest seafood restaurants up against any in the world (and one of the best fish meals I've had anywhere - and I've traveled plenty - was in Denver).

                              2. re: Puffin3

                                Actually, most of the fresh fish I buy at the fish market I go to (the busiest & I believe the first market to get the fish around here .... but you have to get there early in the morning) still has their gills. I get suspicious when they are removed. The volume of fish going through / processed at that market is very very high. I would not be surprised if you could fill a container (same as on an 18 wheeler truck) with the amount of fish that goes through the market in one morning.

                                1. re: cacruden

                                  Where do you live? It must be pretty close to where the fish are being either gill netted or dragged. No one can remove the gills of every fish taken that's for sure but a fish with gills left in has to be REALLY fresh. The saying that 'a fish rots from the head' basically means from the gills. When I was trolling BC Spring salmon we removed the gills at the same time as the guts. That meant within minutes of them being caught. Then on salted ice with ice blankets on top. When the 'cash buyers' showed up we didn't have to run back to a shore processor anymore who basically was able to say: Your fish are three days old and this is the price we are paying today take it or run fifty miles to another processor. The cash buyers bought fish four hours old from say a hundred boats a few miles offshore sometimes. There were lots of them so we fishermen could bargain for the best price. When they bought enough they'd bring out a float plane and within a few hours our fresh salmon were on their way to Vancouver airport to be immediately flown to Japan. The 'cash buyer' sold us food/booze/fuel/smokes ice etc at reasonable prices. You can imagine how the crooks who owned/monopolized the market for decades screamed their heads off. LOL My point is it takes a lot of carful planning and execution to insure the end user gets the best quality product possible at the time. You'd never see a professional fisherman disrespect a fish by not treating it properly. That's not true. There was the odd one but they never lasted in the industry for long. Somehow even when fishing was profitable they always were the ones who went broke. Sort of like what happens elsewhere in business. Show me any business with dying plants outside for lack of water and I'll show you a business on the rocks. Now I'm ranting. Sorry.

                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                    I live in Bangkok. I was told by someone that this one market is central for fish in the Bangkok area and that a lot of chefs from the top hotels would go to this market first thing in the morning (not sure if it is true - but it made me aware of it). If I want them to, they will cut the gills off and gut the fish for me - sometimes I let them clean the fish sometimes I just take them home and do it myself. There are other markets to buy fish closer to my place, but I have found that this market is better for fish. There is a lot of seafood consumed locally, and there is a large market for fresh fish.... so that probably helps.

                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                      Many years ago I used to commercially hand line blue fish. As you said, its all how their handled when caught. We put about 4 to 6 inches of crushed ice in the bottom of 151 qt Igloo coolers and about a 1/2 spackle bucket of salt water creating an ice bath that was so cold it hurt to put your hands in it. As soon as the fish was off the hook in went the ice bath. At the end of the night the water was drained and they were re-packed with crushed ice and off to the market.

                                      24 hrs later these fish looked as if they just came out of the ocean. Rock hard, nice color with no blotches, crystal clear eyes & "Bright red gills". We got paid about double for these #1 grade fish vs. what the Gill netters got for their soft, crushed, blotchy colored "GUMBY" blue fish.

                                    2. re: cacruden

                                      100% on gill removal. They go off very, very quickly. Also, if you obtain fresh, whole fish of any kind, and have to transport it any length of time, gut it, or have it gutted, as well and make sure that the dark deposit below the spine (the kidney) is removed.

                                      OP may wish to sample fresh water fish - Yellow Perch, Walleye and Pike are all firm, white flesh with a mild taste.

                                  2. Tuna and mackerel are good choices for those who don't like fish-fish.
                                    Tuna seared with a little salt and pepper can be as good as a steak to me.
                                    Mackerel because it's so buttery! I use no sauce to cover up that flavor.

                                    Another can be as simple as sardines on a cracker or good bread for dinner.

                                    With time, perhaps red fish or pompano.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: Crockett67

                                      Mackerel? I love the stuff, but I think off it as one of the most fishy tasting fish. Most people I know who don't like fishy fish can't stand mackerel. Cooked, sushi, grilled, braised, stuffed, its all good to me though.

                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                        I love Mackerel too, but agree that even when right-off-the-boat fresh (& I've bought it that way), it's one of the fishiest fish around. Same with Bluefish.

                                        Want really mild fish? Stick with anything white in color. And starting with filets will be much less intimidating than working with whole fish.

                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                          But the white ones are so boring!!!!
                                          They just taste like whatever you put with them.

                                          1. re: Crockett67

                                            But this isn't about what you want or like.

                                            Re-read the OP's request. He WANTS super-mild fish. And Mackerel or even fresh Tuna ain't it. Telling him that Mackerel &/or Tuna are "mild non-fishy" fish simply is not true. And if he were to take your word for it & buy them, you'd be turning him off fish forever.

                                            White-fleshed fish may be boring to you, but for some of us, they're an absolutely delicious clean slate to experiment with. And there's no coverup when you make a perfect "Sole (or Flounder) Meuniere" with fresh fish, or lovely cornmeal-crusted pan-fried catfish with gorgeous U.S. farmed catfish, or how about Monkfish loins cut into medallions & braised in a Catalan-inspired sauce?

                                            Again - what's "boring" to you definitely isn't a widespread notion.

                                            1. re: Bacardi1

                                              I don't find tuna overwhelmingly fishy. I actually think canned tuna is much more fishy than tuna steaks, but that's my opinion. I do agree that mackerel is a bit in your face fish.

                                        2. re: Bkeats

                                          Okay now, good mackerel is not 'that' fishy and tragic if you use it as chum.

                                          I guess I need to be more specific. The only mackerel I've ever had was from the japanese market across from my place which is Spanish mackerel or horse mackerel. Mild and buttery. Now if there are some others that are fishy, maybe. But really I stand by my Spanish mackerel.

                                          1. re: Crockett67

                                            If you love mackerel, go down to the party boat docks during the season mackerel run with a big cooler. You should be able to score a big burlap bag with 150lbs of them in it for about $10.00. The water temp and air temp are still pretty chilly so the fish are usually in good shape. Cover an old outside table and with a nice sharp filet knife slice the meat off each side (don't worry about leaving a little meat on the bones, you have plenty and they were practically free). Slide the carcass into a trash can with heavy plastic liner and toss the fillets into a cooler with ice. When done that step, pull the fillets back out of the cooler and skin / trim / rinse / wrap the fillets and freeze them. You, family & friends will have all the mackerel you want for practically free & probably much better quality than the gill net stuff at the store.

                                            Sadly enough, huge bags of mackerel end up being tossed roadside every year when fishermen are driving home.

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              Okay, this will show how landlocked my life has been. Which coast? Which state!? :D .... but wait is it the smaller ones or the king ones. I've never had a king mackerel.

                                              1. re: Crockett67

                                                If your reference is horse/spanish mackerel, I understand why you think of it as mildly fishy fish. Here on the east coast, most people think of Boston or Atlantic mackerel. Bigger than horse but much smaller than spanish and much stronger flavored than either. Often used as a bait fish. My wife once specially ordered several pounds of boston mackerel at our local fish monger. She went in to pick it up and asked how much and he said it was free. The wholesaler gave it to him for free too. Its difficult to find in stores. WHen you find it, its really cheap. That's probably why its not often carried by the stores. Mostly you find spanish. I prefer boston.

                                                1. re: Crockett67

                                                  East coast, small Atlantic mackerel. Reddish dark meat with a pretty strong flavor. Some folks love them & it seems older Italians know what to do with them. They are also gaining popularity with the Sushi crowd.

                                          2. re: Crockett67

                                            #1 grade Yellow fin yes, but Mackerel? I have caught thousands of lbs of Mackerel and have yet to taste one that I would consider mild. Mostly ground them up for chum to school up the early spring 1-3 lb blues before the gill netters hammered them and crashed the price.

                                            1. re: Crockett67

                                              Apparently I am not alone in my lone fight for the smaller mackerels...

                                              "Blessed (or some may say cursed) with rich, full-bodied meat, mackerel is one of your oilier fishes. That translates into a fillet that's more assertive tasting than Alaskan salmon or Icelandic cod. That is, if you're eating small Atlantic (Boston) mackerel, or the giant king mackerel, which can reach 100 pounds and is such a voracious eater that the fish sometimes can be seen leaping out of the water in pursuit of prey.

                                              Not so with the mid-sized Spanish mackerel, a species that can be found from Cape Cod to North Carolina to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

                                              It's got the same razor-sharp teeth and silvery skin as its larger brethren, along with beautiful yellow spots on its iridescent blue-green skin, but the taste is much, much milder. So much so that even those who normally only will take a chance on fish that is white, flaky and delicate-tasting might ask for seconds and maybe even thirds after they sample it for the first time."

                                              Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/s...

                                            2. I also love swordfish but it does have more flavor than tuna, also it depends on how much you fear mercury. I often enjoy a piece of swordfish and don't really worry too much about the mercury issue unless as I don't eat it everyday but it's another tasty choice IMO

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Swordfish is not for me but for those that have the taste for it I can fully appreciate why they love it.

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  My mother describes swordfish as tasting like steak. I think it is a good starter fish because it does have some taste without being fishy. I like mine rubbed in olive oil and grilled.

                                                2. Is anyone a fan of cod? I can never seem to find it the stores

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    Cod is pretty much a cold-weather fish, & will soon be coming into season. While we can buy it frozen &/or frozen/thawed here year-round, best quality will be between December & February.

                                                    I love it & buy it often. Very versatile fish.

                                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                                      Great, thanks! I will keep my eye out for it. I have to admit I have really only indulged while in Britain and at home with fish and chips. Do you have any other favorite preparations?

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Cod is delicious if fresh. Last week had a piece of battered cod in Turks & Caicos that was fishy. Sent it back after one bite. As so many folks on this site have stated, Fresh, Fresh, Fresh. If your buying it raw, SMELL IT. Any smell other than salt water...Leave it.

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          While I absolutely LOVE cod in traditional "Fish & Chips", at home I'm not much of a fry person, so prefer to enjoy F&C when dining out. At home, I most often bake Cod, & here's one of our favorite recipes. Simple, but delicious.

                                                          Bacardi1 Lemon Baked Cod
                                                          Serves 2

                                                          1 lb. cod fish filet
                                                          1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
                                                          Juice from one lemon
                                                          Approx. 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
                                                          Lemon Pepper seasoning
                                                          Approx. ¼ cup of chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

                                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If filet is whole, cut into 4 pieces, lengthwise & then crosswise, so that each diner gets a thick & a thin piece.

                                                          Mix the butter and lemon juice together in a bowl large enough to dip fish into. Dip the fish into the butter mixture and place fish in an ungreased baking dish.

                                                          Sprinkle the panko crumbs on the fish. Drizzle any remaining butter mixture over the fish and sprinkle with the Lemon Pepper seasoning & the paprika. Bake uncovered until fish flakes easily with fork, about 25-30 minutes depending on thickness of the fish (start checking after 20 minutes). Garnish with chopped parsley.

                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                            Simple and great, I will definitely try this as soon as I spot some cod.

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              Our favorite cod recipe is a variation on an italian recipe. Mash up anchovies and blend with bread crumbs, minced garlic, parsley and olive oil. Spread over the top of a filet. Put several sprigs of rosemary on a baking pan and put filet on top of the rosemary. Bake at 350 until done. Check by inserting knife into thickest part of the file and if the blade is warm, fish is done.

                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                That sounds absolutely delicious. For me.

                                                                However, for the OP who is looking to get into seafood one step at a time, mashed anchovies on top of Cod doesn't sound like a "first step" - lol!

                                                      2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Cod is excellent and extremely versatile. And pretty much always available where I am. In itself that's a major problem as it is now not a sustainably caught fish. I try to use coley as a substitute

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          Problem with cod is that it has been severely overfished (at least the Atlantic variety) so stocks are in serious decline. The alternatives are line caught or Icelandic cod, or of course another fish like pollack.

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            I had cod last night. I have it a lot. Thaw fillets, spray w/butter spray, coarse salt, grind pepper, and garlic powder. cover and bake 20 minutes.

                                                          2. Tilapia.

                                                            Soak in milk for 30 minutes prior to cooking.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Shellhead

                                                              Hey, now I can actually respond to my own thread. Great discussion and ideas everyone. Thanks!

                                                            2. If you can find it 'Black cod' is excellent. I do not mean Alaskan 'Sablefish. Two completely different animals and the taste texture are night and day. Sablefish is misnamed Black cod. The Black cod I'm referring to schools in BC waters. They are very similar to 'rock cod' in appearance and taste/texture. If you have the bucks to travel to the BC coast go to any sport fishing lodge around the Charlottes. There you will be served fresh caught rock cod/ling cod/halibut. You will be enjoying the best fish on the planet and you'll sadly never be able to eat that quality fish again unless you can eat fish within an hour of it being caught somewhere. You can do that pretty much anywhere wild stocks still exist.....whatever the species. I really feel sorry for people who have never been able to eat truly fresh fish right off the boat. I don't blame many people who dislike fish bc of the way it smells/tastes. In times past the commercial fishing industry around these parts did some pretty atrocious things surrounding fish.

                                                              1. Striped bass (aka rockfish) has a pretty mild taste.

                                                                1. Smoked Canadian whitefish will turn you into an addict. Flake and add to creamy mashed potatoes with lots or roasted garlic. I could live on this. Watch for bones.

                                                                  1. Got a recommendation from a family member that I should try Yellowfin Tuna. Should I?

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: JeffroCGC

                                                                      Why not? It's one of my favorite fish. Sear it, medium rare or even raw as poke, it's delicious.

                                                                        1. re: JeffroCGC

                                                                          By all means. Very meaty & very mild flavor if FRESH. Try to buy in a thawed state and give it a real good sniff. If it smells fishy go elsewhere.

                                                                          Many supermarkets have 6 & 8 oz IQF tuna. Sometimes its very good, sometimes it can be old and not good at all. Your nose will always tell you but not with a frozen piece in a vacuum sealed bag.

                                                                        2. I find myself having similar taste buds as the original poster. Thanks for the thread. It has been very educational.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: ProtectTheMoon

                                                                            There's some good info here.

                                                                            Nothing worse than fish with too strong a taste.

                                                                          2. Anyone ever have toadfish?