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Would You Help Me Expand My Fish-Eating Repertoire?

I've long wanted to ask this question (and I have done my share of googling, to no avail) and today I realized that CHs might be very helpful with this. It's about expanding my fish eating repertoire. btw,I live near Boston. Most people have their own idiosyncratic taste buds, and I def do. My taste runs to (with some exception) very flavorful , often rich fatty fish. I like, cook, make sushi with, and order: hamachi, red snapper, grouper, bluefish, salmon, arctic char, sturgeon, escolar(in small doses), tuna, chilean sea bass, black cod/sablefish, shrimp, swordfish, halibut, trout, skate, portuguese sardines, mackerel , eel, and occasionally cod. And also, btw, (though not fish): squid, octopus, scallops, blue crab, clams, oysters, abalone, lobster, mussels, crawfish.)

What I have not cared for: tilapia, sea bass, haddock, shark, monkfish(though i love monkfish liver), smelt, shad roe.
If you know any of the following fish, and given what i've listed, do you think I might like any? : fluke, pollock, flounder, john dory, orange roughy, farm raised catfish, ocean catfish, perch, turbot, ono,cobia, marlin, redfish.
Might you have any other recommendations? I do appreciate your bearing with me here. Thx. so much for your help.

oh, a bit OT, but >>a fav restnt. has been doing a special w/ tilefish, but I read some pretty convincing stuff about not eating tilefish; do you have thoughts about that?

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  1. I love catfish; cook it on a regular basis and because I'm from the south, fried catfish is my favorite way to make it. Pretty simple: skin the fish and either filet it or cook it whole - I season mine simply with salt, pepper, onion powder or fish seasoning and dust it in cornmeal then fry in a cast iron (or other skillet in a peanut or vegetable oil until crispy over medium heat. It only takes a few minutes on each side. A little hot pepper sauce and a splash of vinegar and my oh my!! Another way I like catfish is in a stew with tomatoes, onions, garlic etc. Plenty of recipes online.

    Redfish is delicious blackened (you have to like spicy seasoning for this dish) Here's a good recipe, adjust the recipe if you don't need six servings: http://labellecuisine.com/archives/fi...

    John Dory is a delicate fish; I would not do too much to it except perhaps just spray a non stick cooking pan with spray, season the fish with salt and pepper, sear on both sides and drizzle with lemon butter. Don't over season this fish with strong seasonings or sauces.

    Marlin usually come in steak form (at least in my area); its good for smoking, grilling, even sashimi or ceviche style...

    Ono or Wahoo is good in fish tacos, fried or grilled with like a salsa or lemon/parsley or olive, shallot, caper gremolata

    10 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      cheryl, any way you could describe their flavors? that's what i was looking for. also, your catfish is prob wild? or does farm raised catfish also have alot of flavor?thx

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        is there such a thing as ocean cat? I always thought it a river fish. some describe it as 'muddy'. the best I can say is: it is to whitefish what crawdads are to shrimp. fleshier and a bit gamier. I love it.

        1. re: hill food

          In Florida we have two ocean cats. Hard headed and sailfin. Sailfins are normally preferred as they are not bottom feeders. I normally catch them trolling a 6 inch lure in 8 to 30 feet of water. And a 6 pound cat puts out some great fillets.

        2. re: opinionatedchef

          I'm not Cheryl, but I'll put my 2 cents in. I think of catfish as a very mild flavored fish. I usually have it fresh from our local lake, and hence find farmed really bland. Since most are bottom feeders, whatever the eat may be reflected in the taste. Fried in cornmeal is definitely delicious, but not good for you! Since it's fairly firm, it's a very good fish for grilling, and other preparation, adding seasonings and sauces for extra flavor.

          I've lived in Thailand and traveled lots of Asia. I love the place, but I won't go near any fish, shrimp, etc that is farmed there.

          If your catfish is "muddy", then it may well be the variety called a "mudcat", generally thrown back, and not kept for eating. Kind of yellow-grey in color. IMO best eating is channel-cat, and blue-cat. I don't know New England lakes and rivers too well, but I'm guessing they are too cold for these varieties.

          I'm jealous of the huge variety of fish you are already using!

          1. re: arashall

            i had no dea you could find catfish in lakes; that's cool. My mom was a rural VA girls and she always said catfish(river) were so sweet beCAUSE they were bottom feeders.......... I don't have easy access to all those fish; some i have had when we travel (sturgeon,grouper,black cod.)

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              catfish prefer running water, we used to keep our ponds stocked with channel cat, but they don't breed well in still water so tend to eventually die out. river ones are better (less muddy) than pond ones. and thx to IRFL for that info about salt water cats. I learn something everyday w/o even trying! how cool is that?

              like arashall, I too, am jealous of the variety available.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Tons of catfish in lakes, but many of the lakes have rivers running through them so the water is moving. My Dad and nephew went fishing last night and brought home 11 good sized keepers, so tonight is a family fish fry :-)

                1. re: arashall

                  man, i am feeling really stupid. or really geographiclly challenged. I did not know that rivers run THROUGH lakes. I thought a lake was like a dead end. Dictionary.com here i come.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    oh they're all fed and drained by something. our ponds have creeks and springs, lakes have at least streams. it's just not always obvious without WPA dams.

              2. re: arashall

                Real catfish isn't mild, it is sweet.

          2. You have much more fish experience than I do so I can't really chime in on that but the tilefish recommendation is based on mercury which as many government recommendations is an 'at your own risk' sort of decision. Swordfish is also on the do not eat list and tuna is quite high in mercury as well but I eat them frequently as an accepted personal risk. I imagine if you're not eating it frequently you could give it a try unless there is some other issue I'm not familiar with regarding tilefish.

            1. We love catfish, domestic only, after reading of the filth in some of the Asian 'hatcheries'.
              I cook it in the oven with butter, basil, garlic, salt & pepper and a little cayenne, then drizzled with lime juice. 425 for 20 min, or til done!!
              I haven't made it fried as we eat low carb, but should probably try it with almond flour.
              We hadn't seen it in Sam's Club for a many months, then I read that the floods had messed up the hatcheries, and then they got hit with droughts that also played havoc. It is back now and we are delighted.

              1. Croaker is unbelievably delicious, Clean and cook whole, saute until brown, then watch out for the bones (fish forks demonstrate utility here) but watch out for yellow croaker from China

                3 Replies
                1. re: law_doc89

                  What's wrong with yellow croaker from China? I had it at a Shanghainese place in SF and it was great.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    do a google search and you will find intercepted shipments contaminated with all sorts of toxins and toxic adulterants.

                2. Cobia and redfifish are both pretty mild whitefish in terms of flavor, with redfish being a bit more on the delicate side. Cobia is a very seasonsal fish in Florida- it will typically run locally for a short period of time every year and is much prized when it does show up on menus and in markets.

                  Wahoo is good if you can find it- mild flavor than tuna, strudier texture. I'm surprised not to see mahi-mahi (aka dolphinfish) mentioned since it's one of the more common warm water fish. Amberjack is a bit stronger than grouper or red snapper and falls into the same warm water fish niche.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: beachmouse

                    well prepared cobia is a unique experience. But don't eat too much of it as it is a high mercury fish.

                  2. If you like flavourful, fatty fish, then orange roughy should be right up your alley. The flesh is fairly delicate compared to some of the others you mentioned like salmon or sea bass, but pretty fatty and lends itself to a variety of preparations. I'm not sure how it stands on the endangered species list- might be difficult to get a hold of.

                    1. I think that you would love John Dory and turbot, if you can find them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pikawicca

                        My store often has turbot but I've never tried it can you describe it a little more - flavor and texture.

                      2. Martha Rose Shulman has written recently on expanding fish cooking in the NYTimes--http://nyti.ms/1730nxh

                        And on the Cape, this was a recent blog post: http://www.diaryofalocavore.com/2013/...

                        1. Hi, opinionatedchef:

                          LOL, you're already pretty accomplished when it comes to fish.

                          How about a little focus on the fish of Hawai'i? You prolly already tried ahi (yellowfin), aku, mahimahi, but there're lots of other good fish: 'ono, akule, opakapaka, ulua, black ulua, list goes on...

                          You also didn't mention geoduck, urchins, limpets, steelhead, Dolly Varden, sturgeon, pike, spoonbill, carp, or any crab beyond blues: Dungenness, the kings, Tanner, rock.

                          And then you left out the shrimp, prawns and crawdads...

                          And eels...


                          1. If you don't know it already the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is the web site to go to when one wants to know which fish to buy and which to avoid. Their research is on-going, current and all inclusive for each region of the US. I carry their Northeast Regional fish list printout when I go to market.

                            You mentioned not eating Tilefish.. well, all Tilefish is not bad. Mid-Atlantic wild caught Golden Tilefish is what you want. It has been recovering from over fishing and is now on the "Good Alternative" list. Safe to buy and enjoy. According to the MBASW.

                            To avoid are wild caught Blueline and Golden Tilefish from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, U.S. South Atlantic.

                            Here's the link to this important fishery information center...


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              gio, thnx so much for that link. whew, that is aLOT of information!

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  You're welcome, opinionatedchef. Several years ago a friend of mine told me about a then recent book that would change the way I bought or caught seafood. The book is "Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood" by Taras Grescoe. My friend was correct. We have followed Grescoe's advise since. It just makes sense.

                                  To quote from the link about the reasons why Grescoe travelled around the world in a quest to learn about why seafood was diminishing,"Bottomfeeding is all about eating down the oceanic food chain: avoiding the big fish, such as tuna, swordfish, and salmon, which tend to be full of contaminants, and learning to relish the still abundant, small species that tend to be full of omega-3s and other brain-healthy nutrients." But the book tells so much more than that.


                              1. Have you ever made or had ceviche? It may be a way to make some of the fish you have tried in a different light.

                                1. If you've got access to a Japanese food store, look for unagi, an eel that's always sold filleted and prepared in a sort of barbecue way. You'll find it sealed in clear plastic or in cans. It tends to be not cheap. Just a few little slices, warmed or at room temp, and served on top of a bowl of warm rice, is wonderful.

                                  While you're at it, Japanese food stores sell a wide assortment of fishes and seafoods, many with strange names (what's a saury?), in little cans, like western sardine cans. They're usually sauced, always ready to eat hot or cold, and always delicious. Just buy a few and try them.

                                  1. If you can find Pompano in the NEast, buy it! as long as it is fresh or frozen properly. Also the more exotic varieties of Grouper, Yellow edge, (a deep water grouper 500 ft) Kitty Mitchel, and Scamp both very delicate and tasty. I stay away from the more common Red Grouper, not as tasty, and prone to fluke worms. Not allowed for commercial sale but still available to sport fishing Snook is superb, but remember to skin it before cooking.

                                    1. I would not eat Vietnamese Farm Raised Catfish, AKA Basa and Swai. see the video!!

                                      1. I think that I can safely say that you would really like turbot, redfish, and especially John Dory, one of my favorites.

                                        1. I had my first cobia the other night. A white fish, really delicious and flavorful; meaty texture like bluefish.

                                          I almost forgot-i had pompano on my 16th bday in Fla. what an amazing beautiful and distinct flavor, almost 'nutty'. But it NEVER comes to New Eng. Bummer.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                            I could eat cobia daily if it were available! I eat it, sparingly, however, as it is high in mercury. Shame, it is sooo good.

                                          2. One poster mentioned a Hawaiian fish opakapaka. I know and love a fish by the name of opah, which I suspect is the same thing. It's a bit like sweet swordfish -- same dense texture but a sweeter taste. Lovely.

                                            This brings up the whole topic of learning the many names that refer to the same fish.

                                            Lots of folks have mentioned John Dory. Great recommendation, but that fish may appear on under a French name (St. Pierre) and an Italian name (St. Pietro).

                                            Buy dorade and you're in for some good eating, but be on the look-out for the same fish by its many synonyms: dorado ( Spanish), Orata (Italian), or sea bream.

                                            Striped bass which is really delicious and fits your criteria goes by the name Rockfish in the Middle Atlantic region.

                                            Finally, wahoo is one of my faves even though I don't see it in stores or even on menus too often.