Let’s skip the formalities. You already know that fish is good for you, that it’s packed with proteins, minerals, vitamins and amino-3 fatty acids, that scientific research suggests it enhances your cardiovascular health and makes you smarter, and that the American Heart Society recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish per week. Pff, you’ve probably read that a thousand times. What you want to know is: how does it taste? And what are the tastiest fish out there for you to eat?
So, with that in mind, here’s a run-down of what we here at Gourmet Food Store believe to be the best tasting fish, with details on flavor, texture and the best cooking methods for each:
Due to its white, delicate meat and mild flavor, cod is often called “the chicken of the sea,” and in many dishes it’s a delicious and versatile substitute for meat protein. Atlantic cod fillets tend to be firmer than Pacific cod fillets, though both practically fall apart into tender flakes of lean, white meat, melting in your mouth.
- Taste: mild, somewhat buttery
- Texture: delicate, flaky
- Preparation: Cod can cooked a number of different ways: seared, baked, poached, broiled, battered, the list goes on. Since it’s mild in taste, it contrasts well with striking, colorful ingredients such as lemon, mustard, herbs and olives, and can be used in anything from seafood soups and stews to salads and fish tacos, or of course, fish and chips.
- Examples: Atlantic Cod Portion, Skin Off
Sea Bass is particularly recommended for those who recoil at the overly fishy taste/smell of some other fish. With its mildly sweet flavor, high fat content and full, meaty consistency, it’s easy to enjoy even for those averse to seafood. If you’re not used to eating fish, this is a great place to start, but even those who do eat lots of fish will swear by its heavenliness.
- Taste: rich, mild, sweet
- Texture: moist, firm, tender
- Preparation: Sea bass is best enjoyed grilled, pan-fried, steamed or poached. Pan-searing it before cooking in the oven is also very effective. For flavorings, olive oil or coconut oil will work wonders, as will salt and pepper and other seasonings. Accompany the fish with a simple side like rice, couscous, quinoa or potatoes.
- Examples: Chilean Sea Bass Portion, Skin Off
This goggle-eyed bottom feeder may not be the prettiest fish to look at, but it sure makes up for it in tastiness! Lean and somewhat flaky, its meat tastes subtly sweet, and will melt in your mouth if cooked right. Many consider it similar to cod, though it’s a little sweeter and firmer, and less oily.
- Taste: mild, somewhat sweet
- Texture: firm, meaty, flaky
- Preparation: Halibut is an extremely versatile fish, and can be grilled, poached, broiled, baked, fried, seared, steamed or even smoked. It has a low oil content so be careful when grilling or it will dry out, burn and/or stick to the grill. It marries well with vegetable side dishes, particularly starchy vegetables like potato, parsnip or squash, or with grilled asparagus or cauliflower.
- Examples: Alaskan Halibut Portion, Skin On
This fish gets its name from its rosy, almost-blushing hue. It’s another mild-tasting, versatile fish that will adapt to many different flavors you add to it. Eaten fresh it’s absolutely exquisite, and highly revered among seafood lovers.
- Taste: mild, somewhat sweet
- Texture: firm, oily, moist
- Preparation: Fry it, bake it, broil it, grill it…this fish responds well to a number of different cooking methods. We especially enjoy it grilled or barbecued, and paired with zesty ingredients like lemon or lime, or spicy ingredients such as sriracha or chili peppers.
- Examples: Red Snapper, Whole, Scaled and Gutted
Ah, salmon, one of the world’s most beloved fish. The taste and texture of this one will vary widely depending on species, farming method, time of year, and your cooking approach, but generally all salmon has a high fat content and thus rich, oily taste.
- Taste: rich, fatty, buttery
- Texture: fine, moist
- Preparation: Atlantic Salmon is the most versatile species, and can be pan-fried, seared, oven-baked, broiled, or grilled, all with mouth-watering results. Pink Salmon is best when fried or roasted, while Red Salmon is excellent for raw preparations such as sushi or sashimi.
- Examples: Verlasso Salmon Portion, Skin On / Salmon Premium Fillet, Skin On / True North Salmon Portion, Skin On
As a freshwater bottom-feeder, Catfish has a rather distinctive earthy (some would say muddy) taste, which can be tempered by deep-frying it in batter and seasoning with lemon. The skin is usually removed as it’s too tough to eat.
- Taste: mild, somewhat earthy
- Texture: medium-firm, moist, succulent
- Preparation: Catfish is at its best when golden-fried in batter. Season with salt, pepper and lemon, and add a side of corn-on-the-cob and collard greens for a quintessentially Southern specialty.
- Examples: Catfish Fillet, Skin Off
Swordfish is a mighty, meaty fish: eat it grilled and you’ll almost feel like you’re biting into a steak. Even non-fish-eaters tend to enjoy a good cut of swordfish, whose taste is somewhat similar to tuna. Be warned that swordfish, like tuna, is a top-tier predator and therefore can contain high mercury levels; avoid eating it more than a few times per month.
- Taste: moist, mildly sweet
- Texture: dense, meaty
- Preparation: Swordfish is excellent when grilled or barbecued, and pairs wonderfully with tartar and other sauces and with seasonings like rosemary. Since it’s so robust and filling, we recommend adding light sides such as salads, salsas or summer vegetables.
- Examples: Swordfish Steaks, Skin On