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Fish eating 101

by (40)
Updated about 1 hour ago
Created May 17, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I'm still at the paleo-curious stage, but am doing fairly well at cutting out the bad stuff from my diet, and adding in the good stuff. I would really like to add more fish, for nutrition and variety, but I have never liked fish. Just a whiff of something fishy can kill my appetite. I've eaten salmon a few times recently, but it was a challenge. So here's what I want to know:

  • What are the healthiest mild-tasting fish?
  • Are there any fish that aren't too healthy? (so I can avoid wasting time on those)
  • Any tasty and easy recipes for a fish cooking beginner?
  • How worried should I be, if I don't acquire a taste for fish and can't eat much?

Thank you!

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098
7970 · May 22, 2010 at 1:43 AM

I eat cans of sardines too, but I don't particularly enjoy it. They tend to be a bit fishy, though the taste is actually a lot more mild than the smell. I think it's important to look for wild caught sardines. Fortunately they come in several flavors (lemon sauce, spanish sauce, etc) that all tend to be made with olive oil.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 20, 2010 at 1:25 AM

One more hint--I always buy my canned fish at Grocery Outlet, affectionately known as the "Dented Can Store". I don't know if you live in a place with a G.O. but they always have a decent selection of fish, which will vary from week to week depending on what they get in. Be sure to read the labels for soybean or cottonseed oil, country of origin, etc. I save a ton of money over supermarket prices.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 20, 2010 at 1:21 AM

I keep a can of sardines or herring at the office if I'm hungry and don't make it home for lunch or brown bag it. You may find canned fish pretty fishy, but salmon loaf made with canned salmon might not be too bad. Most salmon loaf recipes have saltines or bread crumbs as part of the binder along with an egg. I bet you could leave the wheat out and it would still stick together. Growing up, we ate salmon loaf with yellow mustard! Now I usually just eat my salmon plain or on a salad. I think red salmon is tastiest, but you may find pink salmon milder.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 19, 2010 at 4:53 AM

thanks also for this comment, Shebeeste. I really didn't know the first thing about canned fish. I will try to make progress towards eating some of these, sounds like a good light lunch option.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 19, 2010 at 4:51 AM

oh, salsa is a great idea, we always have some around, and I have been trying to incorporate more coconut oil. thanks!

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 19, 2010 at 1:03 AM

This goes with Melissa's flavor recommendations--a really easy quick fish recipe that I make is to bake or broil it with salsa on top. I use locally made fresh salsa but jarred salsa is also good if you eat that. I used to use olive oil with the salsa (put the oil on first), but now I think I would use coconut oil or maybe even butter. And yes, I use a Pyrex pie plate to cook fish in.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 19, 2010 at 12:58 AM

@amelapay You can eat the bones and skin of any canned fish (herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon)--unlike canned "tunafish", most still have bones and many still have the skin. The bones are crumbly and full of calcium. That might be a little too "dead animal" for you right now, but don't make the mistake I heard one new canned salmon eater make--she took all the bones out! Way too much work not to mention a waste of good nutrition. Sardines are usually whole, but headless, some herring is in fillets, and salmon and mackerel come in chunks.

D628a7339e8567f7246fc0cf652acacf
649 · May 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Quite possibly. I eat it by itself. Good luck with your restaurant. :)

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:13 AM

Maybe a silly question, but do they have bones in them? And do you eat the skin? Or are they little filets? And do you eat them just straight up? As an ex-veg*n, I still have a hard time with things that look too much like dead animals.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:12 AM

I don't think I have tried smoked salmon - is that the kind that people put on bagels? My former self found that practice extremely disgusting - who could think of ruining perfectly good bread with FISH?! ;-) I will try some at the next opportunity. And I also plan to hit a good seafood restaurant soon!

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Oh, and gilliebean, like a pyrex dish? I have a couple of those, will try broiling fish in them.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:09 AM

This is really helpful, Melissa! I also love spicy thai food, but it had never occurred to me to put fish into a curry. I used to love tofu curry, but may never eat that again after what I've learned about soy recently :-/ Definitely trying that soon. I will also try to suck it up and order fish at restaurants. Usually I don't, for fear of getting something I don't like and spoiling the experience, but maybe I will discover some dishes that I actually enjoy. And your recipe template really demystifies what combinations of things I should try putting onto the fishies. Thanks again!

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:03 AM

Very interesting - hoping this will happen to me, too!

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208
13983 · May 17, 2010 at 6:10 PM

Also mahi mahi, ahi tuna, and orange roughy are good fishes with which to start. I broil my fish in a glass pan with a little pepper and garlic powder - 7 minutes each side.

4310630972b25b6ed4fbd0fe7a7201d0
840 · May 17, 2010 at 4:37 PM

I didn't like fish either. I have found, however, that the longer I follow a paleo diet and the cleaner I eat (i.e., no salt, etc), the more I can tolerate fish. There are times where I even crave it! I'm guessing this has to do with low iodine content due to the lack of table salt and other processed foods.

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6 Answers

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9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad
8
56616 · May 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM

What are the healthiest mild-tasting fish? Sea bass, flounder, red snapper...though personally salmon was my first foray into fish. I think smoked salmon is a decent intro, especially with some black pepper or lemon.

Are there any fish that aren't too healthy? (so I can avoid wasting time on those) Farmed fish in general. Trout and tilipia are fairly low in omega-3. I would look up fish in nutritiondata.

# Any tasty and easy recipes for a fish cooking beginner? What normal food do you like? For me, I LOVE spicy thai food, so I made spicy thai recipes with fish. Thai is also a good way to go because the acids and spicy notes mask fishiness. A typical recipe for me is fish simmered in coconut milk with tons of curry paste.

But really, I can't recommend a very good restaurant enough. I never would have touched most of these fish if I hadn't first had them prepared expertly. I was the kid who gagged at the smell of fish, but a good chef knows how to make fish non-fishy and delicious!

My rule for fish recipes = acid (lemon/lime/vinegar) + spicy (black, green, red pepper) + added fat (butter or coconut) + flavorings (ginger/cilantro/basil)

Weirdly enough, sushi has been my first foray into many types of fish. At a good sushi place fish should never taste very fishy. I first had eel and mackerel, fish I was quite scared by, at a good sushi place.

If you do dairy, clam or lobster bisques and chowders are a good intro.

# How worried should I be, if I don't acquire a taste for fish and can't eat much? I would just keep trying. There has to be a fish (or seafood) out there for you. I still hate many types of fish (sardines, herring, mussels), but I've found some seafoods that I LOVE and I am SO GLAD they are part of my life. Shellfish was a revelation for me- shrimp, lobster, clams, and oysters are now some of my favorite foods.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:09 AM

This is really helpful, Melissa! I also love spicy thai food, but it had never occurred to me to put fish into a curry. I used to love tofu curry, but may never eat that again after what I've learned about soy recently :-/ Definitely trying that soon. I will also try to suck it up and order fish at restaurants. Usually I don't, for fear of getting something I don't like and spoiling the experience, but maybe I will discover some dishes that I actually enjoy. And your recipe template really demystifies what combinations of things I should try putting onto the fishies. Thanks again!

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 19, 2010 at 4:51 AM

oh, salsa is a great idea, we always have some around, and I have been trying to incorporate more coconut oil. thanks!

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Oh, and gilliebean, like a pyrex dish? I have a couple of those, will try broiling fish in them.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208
13983 · May 17, 2010 at 6:10 PM

Also mahi mahi, ahi tuna, and orange roughy are good fishes with which to start. I broil my fish in a glass pan with a little pepper and garlic powder - 7 minutes each side.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 19, 2010 at 1:03 AM

This goes with Melissa's flavor recommendations--a really easy quick fish recipe that I make is to bake or broil it with salsa on top. I use locally made fresh salsa but jarred salsa is also good if you eat that. I used to use olive oil with the salsa (put the oil on first), but now I think I would use coconut oil or maybe even butter. And yes, I use a Pyrex pie plate to cook fish in.

3eab7d5007b7696587d90993ca80a24e
2
70 · May 17, 2010 at 4:27 PM

I've found the following resource to be helpful regarding which fish "aren't too healthy":

http://med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/fish.htm

I find most white fish to be more mild, so maybe start with that and compare it to the chart at the link attached to find a happy medium between healthy and mild.

Also, when in doubt about taste - I just stir fry it. Throw in some curry and coconut and you can mask anything.

A8f60263853ac254f3d7f4ac346d7f35
1
10 · May 17, 2010 at 4:34 PM

I tend to stick to Sardines, preferably in mustard sauce, or straight form the farmer's market.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 20, 2010 at 1:21 AM

I keep a can of sardines or herring at the office if I'm hungry and don't make it home for lunch or brown bag it. You may find canned fish pretty fishy, but salmon loaf made with canned salmon might not be too bad. Most salmon loaf recipes have saltines or bread crumbs as part of the binder along with an egg. I bet you could leave the wheat out and it would still stick together. Growing up, we ate salmon loaf with yellow mustard! Now I usually just eat my salmon plain or on a salad. I think red salmon is tastiest, but you may find pink salmon milder.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:13 AM

Maybe a silly question, but do they have bones in them? And do you eat the skin? Or are they little filets? And do you eat them just straight up? As an ex-veg*n, I still have a hard time with things that look too much like dead animals.

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 19, 2010 at 4:53 AM

thanks also for this comment, Shebeeste. I really didn't know the first thing about canned fish. I will try to make progress towards eating some of these, sounds like a good light lunch option.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098
7970 · May 22, 2010 at 1:43 AM

I eat cans of sardines too, but I don't particularly enjoy it. They tend to be a bit fishy, though the taste is actually a lot more mild than the smell. I think it's important to look for wild caught sardines. Fortunately they come in several flavors (lemon sauce, spanish sauce, etc) that all tend to be made with olive oil.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 19, 2010 at 12:58 AM

@amelapay You can eat the bones and skin of any canned fish (herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon)--unlike canned "tunafish", most still have bones and many still have the skin. The bones are crumbly and full of calcium. That might be a little too "dead animal" for you right now, but don't make the mistake I heard one new canned salmon eater make--she took all the bones out! Way too much work not to mention a waste of good nutrition. Sardines are usually whole, but headless, some herring is in fillets, and salmon and mackerel come in chunks.

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · May 20, 2010 at 1:25 AM

One more hint--I always buy my canned fish at Grocery Outlet, affectionately known as the "Dented Can Store". I don't know if you live in a place with a G.O. but they always have a decent selection of fish, which will vary from week to week depending on what they get in. Be sure to read the labels for soybean or cottonseed oil, country of origin, etc. I save a ton of money over supermarket prices.

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2759 · May 20, 2010 at 5:42 AM

You might also read Seafood Watch to find out if what you're eating is sustainably harvested. Monkfish, alas, is on the "avoid" end of the spectrum.

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0
2604 · May 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Some of the fishyness you dislike may be because the fish is not super fresh. If you can get your hands on very fresh fish, it should not be 'fishy'. In addition to the fish mentioned here already, monkfish is lovely - very meaty and firm

D628a7339e8567f7246fc0cf652acacf
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649 · May 17, 2010 at 4:28 PM

I find smoked salmon to be delicious, have you tried it?

Crab legs are also extremely good.

I used to think I didn't like fish, but I think that was mostly due to poor cooking technique. I think you should find an expensive (seafood) restaurant and order the fish the server recommends. Then you will know how it's supposed to taste.

Quality counts for a lot with fish; you can't cheap out and expect something good to eat.

D628a7339e8567f7246fc0cf652acacf
649 · May 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Quite possibly. I eat it by itself. Good luck with your restaurant. :)

866fd1b06042dc5b47c07a688e6ddda5
40 · May 18, 2010 at 5:12 AM

I don't think I have tried smoked salmon - is that the kind that people put on bagels? My former self found that practice extremely disgusting - who could think of ruining perfectly good bread with FISH?! ;-) I will try some at the next opportunity. And I also plan to hit a good seafood restaurant soon!

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