Some people don’t like fish, it’s a fact. And the reasons for this dislike can be many. The texture, served slimy or undercooked fillets, etc. Fish can be easy to prepare wrong and can turn someone off to seafood for a while if consumed this way.
Some fish dishes and tips for people who don’t like fish include getting the right kind of fillet, cooking it correctly, and using it fresh. The recipe used and method of preparation can make all the difference in how your palette receives the fish, and we will look at a few in this article.
Get the right fish:
The first step in getting a good fish meal is selecting the right fish to cook. Go for a fish with firm white flesh, like cod, tilapia, whitefish, or halibut. These fish can mimic chicken in texture and flavor, and if properly prepared, can work as gateway fish to helping your palette become accustomed to seafood.
Aside from tilapia, these fish come from cold, deep water. The cold causes the blood to stay closer to the internal organs, reducing the amount of blood in the meat. This lack of blood gives the meat a cleaner taste.
Tuna is another great option for those who don’t like fish. No, I’m not talking about the stuff that comes in cans. I am talking about an honest-to-goodness tuna steak. Tuna steak is a thick chunk of red meat that tastes almost like beef and is also crammed with omega-3 fats and protein, making this a healthy addition to anyone’s diet.
Also, consider the source of your fish. The diet of your catch will affect the flavor. Wild-caught fish will generally taste better than those that are farm-raised. The trout caught near the hatchery down the road seems to taste like dog food, while the ones caught downstream where the river meets the lake have a much better flavor.
This is where the rubber hits the road. If your fish is not properly prepared, it can taste disgusting or put you in the hospital.
Start with the freshest fish you can get, the same day as caught if possible. If you cannot cook it right away, then freeze it immediately and when thawed again, use it quickly. The shorter the time between the water and the stove, the better the flavor will be.
Take away some of the fishy flavor and smell by squeezing a lemon over the fish before cooking. The acid in the lemon neutralizes the fish smell. Do not worry, the lemon taste and smell will burn off during cooking.
Be careful not to overcook your fish. Most fish only need 2 to 4 minutes per side. If you have a rubbery taste or texture to your fillet, then it was over-done. Fish should be light, flaky, and tender.
Fish absorb spices better than beef or chicken, so do not be afraid to add your favorite seasoning or rub to the meat.
Get the Bones Out
Few things are more irritating about eating fish than dealing with the bones. Whether you are spitting the bones out as you find them or getting them stuck in your throat, their presence can be a deterrent to fish consumption for many people.
Cut Them Out
Some fish are worse than others. The northern pike and its cousin the walleye, are notorious for being bony critters. They have a Y bone that runs down the middle of the fillet that can be a rude surprise to anyone eating it. But thankfully the bones are easy to see and can be removed from the fillet by cutting along the top row of bones down to the cutting board, then cutting following the lower leg down to the board. You will end up with a V-shaped cutout containing the bones and two nearly boneless fillets.
Cook Them Out
Panfish like bluegill, perch, or crappie have a fair amount of small bones in them. On the larger specimens, the bones are easier to find, on the smaller ones, not so much. Some say that the bones will dissolve when deep-fried. Others swear by an overnight marinade in milk or vinegar. I’ve never tried the marinades, but my great-grandma’s fried perch held very few bones.
Pull Them Out
Salmon are known for their pin bones, which are actually not bones but calcified nerve endings. These pesky buggers need to be tweezed out one at a time to remove. Be sure to pull in the same direction as the bone is leaning to avoid breaking it off. If you are serving the fillet with the skin on, you can eat around the pin bones, however, the lack of bones may help the experience if you or your guest don’t like fish.
When I was growing up, there was only one way our family cooked fish. It was dredged in flour and fried in a pan with some oil. That fresh caught perch or bluegill never tasted so good as when it was fried up by one of my grandmas for lunch or dinner and followed up by a homemade pie. While this is not the healthiest way to eat a fish, it is definitely my favorite way. If you like fried chicken, then this is the way to try fish.
A unique variation on pan-frying is to pack fresh-shredded parmesan cheese onto the fillet instead of breading and then frying it in the pan. This is a good option for those going low-carb or if you are doing a keto diet.
On a bear hunt in Canada, my dad and I skipped the breading altogether and pan-seared our fresh caught perch and walleye fillets in butter with some salt and pepper. These were some of the best fillets I have ever had, and they tasted light-years better than our cabin-mates cooking.
Baking is the healthier way to cook fish. It is also the easiest way to overcook fish. So, how to tell when the fish is ready? When the fillet is flaky, the fish is done. If you prefer your fish breaded, you still can do that with this method. Just bread as normal and put in the oven. All the crispy flavor but without the grease. For extra crispy fish, try double-dredging the fillets before baking. First, dredge the fillet in flour, then dip in egg, then dredge in panko breadcrumbs.
Broiled or Poached
Broiled or poached is usually how I encountered fish in an army chow hall. The advantage to these methods, especially poaching, is that there is far less chance of ending up with a dried-out fillet. Also, the fish can be cooked in a mix of seasonings and butter that can please the pickiest eaters.
Grilling is the preferred method of cooking lake trout among my friends. The fillet with skin on is wrapped in foil with onions, olive oil or garlic butter, and sprinkled with lemon juice and seasoning. The foil keeps the fillet from drying out by sealing in the moisture. Anything can be put in the foil with the fish, depending on your personal preference.
Fish are tasty and have many vitamins, fats, and oils that are beneficial to humans, but, if not cooked right, they can be downright disgusting too eat. Hopefully, these tips and dishes will help you or your family like fish a little better and enjoy it more often.