My Least Favorite Fish

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!

 

Bluefish

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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

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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.

 

Escolar
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Escolar Fillet. Source: FDA Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia

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.

 

Herring

Kippered Herring 1895

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.

 

Fish Livers

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.

 

Tilapia

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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.

 

Swai/Pangasius
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The only bag of swai I ever bought

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.

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7 thoughts on “My Least Favorite Fish

  1. I agree on many things. Carp is very popular also here in Hungary and I also don’t really like it because as you said it has often a mud taste, but I had some coming from larger lakes and the taste was better, not muddy at least.
    On tilapia, pangasius, etc. I think the same, I’ll never buy them. I don’t like for example the idea of eating a fish which maybe comes from Mekong river.
    Last, I also don’t usually like fish livers, but if you didn’t try yet I suggest you to give a try with burbot liver.

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  2. 1) Can’t eat jellied eel; tried it deep fried in South Asia–still not my favourite. 2) Catfish–because we were not raised eating fresh water fish (and they look weird); but someone brought us before an ice box full of them, we grilled them in the garden and they seemed to be okay, but that was never repeated. 3) The native tilapia in the PH–they tasted like mud to me; but after tasting the Nile variety (smothered in salt, deep fried, then dipped in soy sauce and lemon)–I keep dreaming of it–I’m now more ok with freshwater fish. 4) Milkfish/bangus–a recent conversion again (freshwater fish), but after learning what they’re fed with, I’m having second thoughts. 5) Shark (mammal, really)–because they’re now nearing extinction; but they taste good, especially with coconut milk.

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  3. I agree with you on most of them, with the exception of Carp. Living in Poland for a few years, each Christmas the famous Xmas Eve dish of Carp in Aspic would appear. I simply love it and the reason being that my grandmother, who was not Polish but French Canadian made that dish too. I have never eaten carp any other way. Also Carp is one of those ancient fish you see in the ponds of old Palaces in Europe, stories go that they can live to be 100 or older, don’t know if that is true, but they do grow to be large in such environment.

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