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Something Fishy

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Last night we had another couple over for dinner. At one juncture conversation turned to odd and unusual foods we had eaten at one time or another – and what we might eat or find unpalatable in the category of the truly bizarre. Not like from the CBS TV show “Survivor” (duck embryos?…) of a Klingon battle-cruiser’s galley (“Gagh” or basically, live worms) but actually served in a restaurant or in somebody’s home. Yes, here on Earth.

Our worldly dinner guest (born in Israel, raised in Uruguay and possessed of decidedly European sensitivities) professed to willingly eat anything that might be served. I was impressed, but my gastric tract is less iron-clad. Ever the picker-eater, I listed various items that my palate refuses to regard as food: mushrooms, beats and Brussels sprouts are high on my personal list of the unsavory.

We then discussed foods we particularly enjoy. As a born and raised Marylander, and perhaps the most provincial Baltimorean on all of Spark, I’m partial to seafood and indulge in same as much as the Sparky nutrition tracker and my wallet both allow.

Whereas crab (our local seafood delicacy) can be an economic challenge to consume with frequency, fish of various kinds is on our menu somewhat more often. Even Susan818127, not a fish-lover by nature, has evolved a palate tolerant of certain fish. She is happier if fish is prepared in an Asian style (drumroll for the “Soy Vay” seafood sauce), whereas its lemon, dill and Old Bay for me.

So, what kind of fish? Well, with economics and the somewhat limited palate of Thing 1 and Thing 2 in mind, usually its either salmon or tilapia. As parents and Sparkies, we thought we were doing the right thing by having these fish as relative frequent flyers on our dinner plates, what with those uber-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and all.

Recently I read an article that cast some overall doubt on the health benefits of the supermarket-variety of farm-raised Atlantic salmon routinely available for a quasi-affordable price here in the eastern seaboard. Apparently, such fish can concentrate pesticides, less healthy Omega-6 fats, appetite stimulants and other nasty stuff. Wild Alaskan salmon is recommended by aficionados – those seafood snobs must have some pretty green paper to feed their laser printers – our $20s and Benjamins look less believable and Alaskan salmon usually is out of reach.

This leaves tilapia. This stealth –fish is absent from the must-have healthy seafood lists, and is equally absent from the pollutant-sponge fishes to avoid. A versatile food that readily adopts to a variety of different flavorings- tilapia is our blank-white-canvas of seafood choices. As usual, some Sparky care and discretion is advised – and usually is exercised in our house – to keep high-fat and caloric toppings from undoing the healthy benefits.

A final word, as a Marylander who spent 8 or 9 summers of my youth on the coast of Maine, I am quite the seafood snob. In my book, the nose knows. If fish smells fishy, it’s past its prime. And don’t even try and offer up anything canned. Canned fish tastes like the can. And frozen fish tastes like the packaging in which it was frozen. It’s got to be (fresh) rock and roll music, if you want to dance (dine) with me. I never buy fish on a Monday or Tuesday, rationing that it rested on ice (or worse) for a few days since last it went swimming. (Oh, how I miss swimming!)

Finally, seafood is what I call protein and caloric efficient. I get more grams of protein per calorie without a corresponding fat and cholesterol penalty, or at least I perceive things this way. So, any seafood foodies out there in Spark-land? Favorite recipes to share?

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (my blog, my rules...)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hmmm I am not finding any "authoritative" information about Tilapia being used as a scavenger to clean up poo and other filth in lakes and ponds... (which would be the definition of a scavenger fish, like catfish...)... but I found lots on Wikipedia and elsewhere that their favorite foods are plants and are used to keep rivers and lakes and such clear of the plant growth that could otherwise overgrow and cause nasty problems like "red tide" or algae overgrowth... so that's a good thing and doesn't really have much to do with poo?

    In general though, I *LOVE* fish but unfortunately I am allergic to shellfish - does a wicked number on my urinary system. Grew up eating same day caught fresh fish in Florida in the 60's (mullet especially!!) and gradually added more to my experiences including freshcaught Alaskan Salmon (one of my dad's co-workers had a customer air-freight in some fresh caught salmon one day and we had it the next day at a "business dinner" at the guy's house that night! Yum!). Also LOVE flounder - it's soooo delicate and mild and tender...also snapper and grouper... hard to get them now, they are overfished and so there are specific times when they can legally be caught. Recently had Chalaen Sea Bass at one of the restaurants in Branson, O - that is yummy!!

    But... when I'm desperate, I'm thankful for flash frozen fish or for canned fish - even have fond memories of salmon patties!! yum!

    As for beets, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts - they are an acquired taste. I did learn a better way to prepare Brussels sprouts but haven't yet fixed any myself that way. They were roasted, which really really mellowed them out, and then a glaze was made with butter and balsamic vinegar, and Brussels sprouts cooked in that glaze... yummy!!
    2926 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    I would rather suck on a dirty diaper than eat seafood or anything from the ocean. Even the sponges. Tilapia is used in Thailand to clean feces out of the rivers and streams, seas,, (gag)because they have no organized sewage system. No thanks, if I want that flavor, I will drop a line in my throne.
    As far as canned fish, I DO can fish(in jars),, We do salmon(Caught in the Great Lakes), monkfish.. Did you know if you can(In Jars) monkfish, it tastes exactly like lobster?? We have the recipe.. I hate it, but I am the only member of my family that gags at the smell of seafood.

    When we smoke carp, yes carp, caught in our rivers it tastes exactly like smoked whitefish. One of my Jewish friends ate three fourths of a twelve pound smoked carp(lox) before I told her what it was,, she refused to believe it.

    We in Michigan are very spoiled by having immediate access to all the fresh water fish we can cram into our greedy little gobs! Ever eat salmon cheeks? It is like caviar to a true Michigan fisherperson.

    Eat my share of ocean stuff, I will eat your beets!! When we do freeze salmon or pike or any fish, we add a slice of onion in the bags with some water, it absorbs any fishy smell or taste if there is one..
    2939 days ago
  • CMW123
    You never fail to entertain. emoticon

    I was going to suggest the Insect Club for your friend ... however, looking it up, it closed down about 10 years ago. The only other option for the person of adventurous palate would be the cultural fair on the DC mall in the spring during the 17 year cicada coming out ... the smithsonian of Natural History does indeed fry up some for the curious.
    2943 days ago
    I just can't even think about tilapia since I watched that Dirty Jobs episode in which the tilapia's job was to clean up the poo from the other fish.
    2943 days ago
    Never met a seafood I didn't like, at least if it was fresh! As it is, I usually have to opt for frozen. :(

    My dad was a great freshwater fisherman, so my favorite is still rainbow trout fresh from the lake or creek. Quick saute in butter is all I require. Being low carb I can eat all the fat in the world and still have great numbers all around.

    Tilapia really IS the "chicken of fish" - really versatile and easy to flavor however you like. Sadly, it's pretty low in those coveted Omega 3's, but something is better than nothing, as my dear grandma used to say!
    2943 days ago
    Not a fan of fish at all. I can't stand any of it. It's sort of sad too, my parents and other family members love fish. Me I will go for chicken every time.
    2944 days ago
    Love sea food! We try to eat fish a couple of times per week. We watch the ads religiously for sales.
    2944 days ago
    I'm OK with seafood but find dried small child unappetizing at the best of times.

    2944 days ago
    Love fish.

    If I were to root for any American League team, it would be yours. My Giants are being out-played by the Reds. My guys aren't even playing bad baseball-- the Reds are just playing great baseball. And I think that the Giants peaked too soon.

    Next year Orioles and the Giants! Sorta like next year in Jerusalem!
    2944 days ago
    Funny, wild Alaskan salmon and tilapia are our two weekly fishies too. But it's always frozen, because that's what's available and what we can afford. Plus, I really can't taste the difference the way I drown them in lemon/lime juice and seasonings (we buy Trader Joe's version of Soy Vay called Soyaki, which is half the price of the Soy Vay, and also use that on salmon a lot). Also canned fish is great for making fish cakes. You can't taste the can if you eat it that way.
    2944 days ago
    What a great blog1 I always love the way you write and put together your blogs. Next time I make pasta, I'll add the small child to boost the protein content.
    2944 days ago
    I love fish as well although I draw the line at sushi. I was just reading an article today about the top 12 fish to stay away from which was quite interesting


    2944 days ago
    I have to agree with so many of you responding Spark friends on both accounts
    the fish not a big fan but will eat it sometimes because its good for you
    the can fish reminds me Friday nights dinners of salmon balls
    or cream tuna on toast which we would have on Friday nights thanks for the memories
    and as for the base thing I with several others please beat those
    Yankees they had there turn already. and as for that red and green thing what is it ????????????

    2944 days ago
    I like fish, but cod or halibut are what my family will eat. Not too much that is totally fresh caught available here. *SIGH*
    2945 days ago
    The original version before Julie Andrews goofed and sang the wrong lyrics:
    Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
    Mushrooms, beets and Brussels sprouts
    Double plays and base runner outs
    These are a few of my favorite things

    2945 days ago
    Can't handle fish of any kind...the smell, the taste, the look...none of it agrees with me!

    But on a more serious note.....REALLY can't stand the Yankees....please, please, please have your Orioles beat them!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2945 days ago
  • POPSY190
    Sorry you had to point out the humour. I see so many around that would be perfect in this recipe!
    2945 days ago
    I love fish and many shellfish (though I'm not fond of most bivalves) - grilled, pan seared, broiled, doesn't matter to me.

    Shrimp are my fave!
    2945 days ago
  • MARYANN2323
    Would that be Thing 1 or Thing 2?
    2945 days ago
    Big seafood fan, and I agree with all your rules - fresh fish is worth the price. Except tuna. Canned albacore is just fine. But I must admit, it was difficult to read past your bias against beets and Brussels sprouts. As with all devotees, we tell ourselves, "It's just 'cus you haven't had them prepared properly yet." This is especially the case with Brussels sprouts, which are an entirely different foodstuff depending on whether one boils/steams (ew) and - as is proper, I think - roasts or sautés them. And never waste your money on frozen ones, just as with fish.
    Fresh Brussels, cut in half, half a sweet onion, coarsely chopped, tossed with olive oil and roasted at 425 degrees for 30 minutes - then drizzled with just a wee bit of maple syrup and tossed with dried cranberries, toasted almonds (or walnuts or pecans) and feta or crumbled blue cheese. Obviously, the sprouts are the main course... perfect for a small side of fish to go with it.
    2945 days ago
    I will not ever ever never eat fish. Pooey, ick yuck, smelly. Stinks. No no no.
    2945 days ago
  • no profile photo JENAE954
    All that seafood talk is making me to 'jones emoticon ' for seafood.
    2945 days ago
  • MARYANN2323
    Fish has never really been prominent on my plate. Save for the deep fried, clog your arteries, type, I rarely indulged. As for the wild salmon, which is so healthy, even that rarely graced my plate. Even now. We have the wild type swimming practically up to our back door, and still I resist. I guess when it is so plentiful one tends to over look it.

    And as for tilapia, I saw a show "Dirtiest Jobs," where they showed a tilapia farm. These were on land farms where the fish are raised in huge tanks. First they raised a crop of a different type of fish. After it was harvested they put the next crop (tilapia) straight into the dirty tanks. Apparently the tilapia are of the type of sucker fish that will totally clean that tank. After having seen that, I will never, ever, even try a tilapia. Can't tell you how that made me feel. So, for the little fish I DO eat, it has to be wild all the way.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2945 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/7/2012 3:32:49 PM
  • POPSY190
    I grew up next to the North Sea in the 50s. No fish lives up to what I ate then so rarely eat it today!
    2945 days ago
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