I get asked on nearly a daily basis about my favorite seafood or what fish I like to eat. I’ve gotten better at answering these questions but it’s hard to rank them. When choosing what to get for fish it often comes down to what I can find that is fresh, preferably local, and affordable. Out of the fish that I’ve tried, and I can get on a regular basis, here are my top choices, along with some vintage public domain images of classic seafood.
Haddock is my favorite fish, it’s a species that I have been connected to my entire life. Fried, baked, broiled or in chowder, haddock is mild, flaky and versatile. If you grew up in a New England fishing family, cod may be king, but we all brought haddock home. Also haddock is a guilt-free choice from a sustainability standpoint here in the US. The populations are at high levels and successfully managed.
How I love swordfish, a big thick steak on the grill, or even broiled in the oven is a little slice of heaven. Marinated in oil, spices and vinegar or brushed with butter, capers and tarragon. I’ve enjoyed it roasted with breadcrumbs too. If it’s fresh, if it’s local, it is really hard to mess up swordfish. Keep it simple and it will be great.
I treat tuna in much the same way I do swordfish. You can do it fancy, but simple is better. Bluefin or Yellowfin are what I prefer and I like it either completely raw as in sashimi, or cooked all the way through. Maybe it’s just me but I’m not a fan of when it is seared on the outside and raw in the middle. I know it’s popular that way, but I want my tuna completely cooked or completely raw.
Halibut is usually out of my price range, but it is hard to pass up if I see a nice thick piece of Atlantic halibut at the fish market. I tend to prepare it similar to swordfish, but I also like it in the oven, prepared almost like a fish roast. As I kid, I didn’t know how lucky I was, getting to eat fried halibut sandwiches when a stray chicken (a small fish) halibut wound up in my family kitchen.
Officially it’s witch flounder but to us it’s graysole or grey sole. Thin, great tasting fillets that command high prices in fancy restaurants. Sometimes it’s sold as “sole” to command an even higher price, but it is actually a flounder. I had them fried most of my life but also do well with more sophisticated recipes. Sometimes I cook them with lemon and mixed vegetables in a tinfoil pouch.
I don’t eat a lot of salmon and when I do, I prefer wild-caught Pacific species. I’m not against farm-raised, but I need to know about where it is coming from and how it was raised. I like it in steaks over fillets and a little flavoring goes a long way – I like the natural taste of the fish. Smoked salmon and lox are another story: I can eat my weight in lox…
Oh mackerel…how many of you have I jigged up in my life? Your annual runs meant summer was here when I was a kid. The smell of mackerel on the grill, with a light drizzle of olive oil takes me back to those times.
In particular baby whiting, fried whole like my grandma does. Sweet crispy skin over a mild tasting meat. When cooked this way you can eat baby whiting like corn on the cob. Larger whiting can be prepared like any of the cod-like fish, but I like it fried…with lots of lemon, it’s like having the word’s greatest fish stick!
Besides the occasional fish and chips, I never really ate a lot of cod compared to say, haddock. However one of my favorite seafood items are fried cod cheeks. These delicious little medallions are the best part of the whole fish in my opinion. Tender, juicy and because they are from the head of the fish, they don’t have the worms that cod fillets have.
Am I missing any? Let me know your favorites in the comments section!