You all know I love fish, and I’m willing to try nearly anything at least once. However nobody likes everything of course, and when it comes to fish there are a few that I’m not too fond of. For various reasons: taste, looks, how it was raised etc…there are some fish I don’t like to eat and others that I won’t eat at all if I can help it. Here is, in alphabetical order, my list of least favorite fish along with a brief attempt at rationalization. Join in on the fun and list your least favorite fish in the comments!
I know bluefish is beloved in the NY/NJ area, but it’s just too dark and oily for me to enjoy. I’ve tried it in an oily casserole, I’ve tried it blackened and deep-fried with Cajun seasonings, still not a fan. However I’ve never tried a smoked fish I didn’t like, bluefish included. The rich meat smokes very well and it’s the only way I’ll eat it.
Carp is popular worldwide but less so here in the US. Asian carp are major invasive species and we should all help fish them out by eating more carp. But I can’t eat it, I won’t, not again. We tried cooking one as a kid and it tasted like mud and was full of bones. Then one winter evening in Prague I was persuaded to try the traditional carp dish. What I got was a good-looking fish fried in a crispy batter, only to reveal a dark mushy mess of fish and bones underneath. It is still the only thing I’ve eaten in the Czech Republic that I didn’t like.
I have enough problems with my gut, I don’t need to eat the “Ex-Lax of the sea.” Sure you can eat it in small amounts, and it does taste good, especially in sushi. However it is used fraudulently as “white tuna” which is albacore, not escolar. If you don’t realize you are eating a fish that can cause diarrhea, that all-you-can-eat sushi lunch buffet you just finished could have a very bad ending.
Unless it is smoked, herring will always be lobster bait to me. The sight and smell of even a fresh herring turns my stomach a little. Back when I was a kid, dad usually got really “ripe” bait, after a day in the sun the herring were a mix of heads, bones and bloody juice. I tried pickled herring at a breakfast in Lubeck, Germany and within a moment that smell and taste was too much for me to bear. When it comes to my Dutch readers, I apologize: I’ll eat anything in your wonderful country…except the haring.
It don’t matter what kind of fish, I hate the smell of cooking fish liver even more than the taste. Growing up it seemed everyone older than me loved frying up fish liver and roe. As I’ve gotten older there are some fish roes that I enjoy (like in that Dover sole I tried). However if for some reason you want me to leave, fry up some fish liver and I’ll be out the door as soon as I smell it.
I used to breed beautiful Jack Dempsey cichlids and I can’t see a tilapia without thinking about my old pets. I’ve only had tilapia a few times and regardless of whether the horror stories about the farms are true, I’m not impressed with the fish. In restaurants it’s blandness is used mostly as a protein-based sauce transfer system. And if you believe all that is written about fatty acids, Tilapia is also not that healthy compared to other fish, containing more omega 6 over omega 3. It is also commonly used to fraud customers out of higher priced fish like cod, grouper and snapper. That last part alone is enough for me to quit this fish.
The qualities of swai/pangasius/Asian catfish meat are the very things that make it such a problem: it’s pure white, it’s as bland as tofu, and it’s dirt cheap. Throw a flavorful sauce on it and you don’t know what you are eating. Like tilapia, swai has a bad rep due to how some of the fish are raised. There are some responsible swai farms that follow best practices, but like any cheap import it threatens livelihoods, in this case that of domestic catfish farmers. Most of whom follow the same best practices but cannot compete against the rock-bottom price of swai.