Ditch Your Fish Excuses

Here are some solutions to the most-common reasons people don't eat fish.

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Photo By: vikif

It Tastes Fishy

Solution: Buy mild types of strictly fresh fish.

If it's the flavor of old fish you dislike, we're with you: Old fish is not nice to eat, and you should continue to avoid it. If you just dislike stronger and richer fish, go for milder types of fish, such as tilapia, cod or rainbow trout. And don’t overcook it! The more cooked it is, the fishier it'll taste.

It's Looking at Me

Solution: Buy fillets.

Don't worry, it can't really see you. But many find the whole-fish thing unnerving. Buy fillets or steaks instead and leave whole fish for later, when you are more comfortable with them.

It Makes the House Smell Like Fish

Solution: Cook it in parchment packets or grill it.

Parchment is a good way to prepare fresh fish without sharing the aroma with your curtains. Stovetop cooking makes oils airborne and releases more of the scent of what you are cooking into the air, which does not happen in the moist heat of a sealed parchment package. And, like most grilled things, fish cooked outdoors on your grill is scrumptious.

I'm Not Sure How to Cook It

Solution: Learn one technique first.

The great James Beard recommended cooking fish 10 minutes per each inch of thickness. (Literally measure your fish with an actual ruler until you get a sense for thickness.) The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has a great technique for cooking fish while it's still frozen. This technique takes slightly longer and makes for a wonderful crust on the outside, and allows the middle to stay soft and juicy. Keep seasonings simple. Salt, pepper and lemon are delightful.

Fear of Bones

Solution: Remove them.

Buy fillets instead of whole fish, and feel with your fingers for bones and remove them before you cook (fish tweezers are handy for this). Or choose larger species of fish, like tuna and swordfish, whose bones are easier to detect, and take small bites.

I Want to Protect the Ocean

Solution: Refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide often.

Protecting the oceans is important, and it can be complicated, since some fish are more plentiful and some species are better regulated. Some are fished or farmed in ways that harm other creatures and natural systems. We turn often to the Seafood Watch National Consumer Guide for information on the most-sustainable options at any given time. You can download the guide or smartphone app from their website. Some retailers indicate the level of sustainability right on signage; choose a reputable fishmonger to get good recommendations.

Limited Availability

Solution: Buy frozen fish.

There are terrific options and sources for frozen fish. Many fish and shrimp are frozen when caught at sea, allowing them to travel to you without losing quality. Find a brand or purveyor that you like, buy frozen fish and thaw in the fridge or just start cooking while they're still frozen. (Obviously, don't do this with breaded things.)

It's Not Bacon

Well, true. But bacon can often pair beautifully with fish and seafood. Here are three recipes to try:

Bacon-Wrapped Trout Stuffed with Fresh Sage

Seafood Chowder

Haddock with Bacon and Onions