I get asked on nearly a daily basis about my favorite fish or what seafood 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. I’ve been lucky to have sampled some incredible fish since starting this website but most of those are not always available. Out of the fish that I’ve tried, and I can get on a regular basis, here are my top choices.
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. It is a very close second to haddock on my list. 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. A simple marinade and then grilled is all you need to do. 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. It is also a fish that has become more readily available and so I actually cook more halibut now than ever. You can prepare it like swordfish, or pan roast it, but I like halibut in the oven, prepared almost like a fish roast. Halibut is also a versatile fish that goes well with nearly any kind of sauce or herbed topping.
Officially it’s witch flounder but to us it’s 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 or high-quality farmed salmon. I’m not against farm-raised, but I need to know about where it is coming from and how it was raised. This is a species that I have gained more experience with since started Buying Seafood. Salmon is great with a simple preparation but is also incredible combined with brown sugar and maple syrup. 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. Lately I’ve been enjoying tinned mackerel fillets in olive oil as a convenient alternative to canned tuna.
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. Thanks to this website I have prepared more cod than ever, some local, some imported from Iceland. It has helped me gain a larger appreciation for this important fish, especially when I see local cod being sold.
Honorable Mention: Whiting
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, sometimes called king whiting, can be prepared like any of the cod-like fish. I like it fried…with lots of lemon, it’s like having the world’s greatest fish stick!