I have been blessed most of my life with an availability of excellent seafood. In my travels, I’ve tried to sample as many local delicacies as I could afford. But there have always been a few fish that have slipped through my grasp for one reason or another. They may not be the most glamorous or expensive fish out there, but here are the top fish I have yet to try.
Arctic Char: I know that this Northern cousin of salmon and trout is more common these days, thanks to aquaculture, but it’s a little pricey. That bright red/pink meat looks to me somewhere between coho salmon and wild steelhead. I have never seen wild char sold in my area and I’m apprehensive to shell out halibut prices for farm-raised fish that could end up tasting like a fish tank. If my experience with farm-raised steelhead is any indication, then I guess I’ll wait until some wild-caught arctic char comes my way.
Dover Sole: No I don’t mean the Pacific Dover sole I tried recently, I mean the real thing. The European sole that’s served in restaurants where the Maitre d’ would kindly ask me to leave. It seems to be on every list of best tasting fish on the interwebs, so how good is it? If some up and coming fish supplier would like to send me some…I’m not above giving a shameless plug or twelve. (Update: My wish came true, read about my Dover sole experience here)
Ivory King Salmon: My dad is the best fisherman I know, they don’t call him the Striper King for nothing. Last year one of his charter customers sent him a gift for a great trip: Ivory king salmon. I tried king salmon for the first time a few months ago and my dad said if I thought that was good, wait until I try an ivory. About 5% of all king (chinook) salmon carry a gene that does not allow them to metabolize carotene from their diet of krill and shrimp. Instead of having pink to red flesh, these “ivories” have nearly white flesh. It is popular for its mild buttery taste and is supposedly richer in oil. They command a premium especially here on the East Coast, but there was a time not long ago when they were a cheaper grade, even discarded. Can you believe that?
Sturgeon: I’ve tried real caviar once, and I can take it or leave it. I’m actually much more interested in eating the grown ups, which I’m told are either really excellent or really bad. So many sturgeon species are critically endangered that even if you can get sturgeon meat, you may not want to. However not all sturgeon are endangered, some are healthy enough to harvest and they are even being farm-raised for meat and humanely harvested caviar.
Whitefish: I’m sure there are a lot of readers who see whitefish as pedestrian – in some areas of the United States, smoked whitefish or whitefish salad are regional favorites. However I never got to try it and I’m curious how it compared to my local white fish like Atlantic cod or haddock. When I was doing research for my cookbook From Head To Tale I learned of a unique Siberian preparation for whitefish called stroganina. A quickly-frozen whitefish like nelma (also known as Russian white salmon) is cut is thin strips from tale to head and consumed with ice-cold vodka. Where do I sign up?
So what fish are on your fish wish list? Share with us in the comments!