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Tastes like...chicken?
December 17, 2009 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Help me learn how to like eating seafood.

I don't eat any fish - never really have. The idea of eating fish kind of disgusts me. It's hard to delineate exactly why that is, but I think it partially has to do with the fact that when fish is cooking it does not create a pleasant aroma. I would never walk into the house of someone cooking fish and think "mmm, that is going to be delicious" the way I would of someone roasting a turkey or grilling a burger.

The few times I've tried fish I didn't think it was bad, per se, but I couldn't mentally get over what I was eating so I just ate really fast and tried not to think about it.

I realize, however, that not eating any fish at all isn't the healthiest diet, and I really want to start incorporating it into my weekly menu. So I'm looking for suggestions of which types of fish to start with (the least fishy-tasting most palatable to a meat-lover type of fish) and any recipes you have that go along with said fish.
posted by sickinthehead to Food & Drink (58 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Start with tuna steak. It's more like red meat. You can grill it like a steak, and serve it with a whole bunch of things - salad, fries/potatoes etc. Just squeeze a good dollop of lemon on it, salt and pepper it and grill it for about 3 minutes each side.

Work up from there to cod and less "stinky fish".

Avoid anything with eyes and bones. Fillets only. It keeps things easier.

If you like thai curries or laksa, fish and prawns work really well.

You could also try wrapping a piece of, say, cod or salmon in proscuitto - it make the fish more "meaty" and might make it more palatable.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


What about sushi?
posted by milarepa at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm definitely not interested in trying raw fish at this stage.
posted by sickinthehead at 8:06 AM on December 17, 2009


My meat-loving husband hates fish for similar reasons, and always complains when I make tuna fish sandwiches. However, he doesn't complain at all when he makes tilapia for me. Usually he puts a fillet + lemon + garlic in a foil packet on the grill for a few minutes.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2009


Cook some lobster or langoustine in white wine, garlic and herbs. Really easy to cook and REALLY good. Cook it yourself.
posted by krilli at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2009


I feel like Haddock sandwiches are the delicious gateway into seafood. Generally they are good, at least on the coasts. Fairly bland tasting fish, enlivened by being fried. Get used to eating those and you'll be all set.

That said there are plenty of really good reasons not to eat fish both for you (pollution) and for the world (crazy overfishing everywhere). Here's a guide that I found helpful.

I don't like tuna. For whatever it's worth. I don't like the texture of it. Tuna fish from a can in particular makes me want to retch.
posted by sully75 at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2009


oh yeah catfish or talapia fried up is pretty mild but really tasty.
posted by sully75 at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2009


and mussels in white wine with good bread might be worth a try. very cheap, eco-friendly and so, so tasty.
posted by sully75 at 8:10 AM on December 17, 2009


Whoah. Sushi is way easier than you presume. But if you are really that adverse, start with grilled things. Grilled sardines, for example. Grilled salmon. Good with butter, garlic, fresh herbs. It's all good. The key is that fish should be fresh and not smell fishy (that means it's old).
posted by molecicco at 8:11 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm never sure how to answer the 'least fishy-tasting' question, since I don't know what 'fishy' means. All fish is fishy by definition. However, you should keep in mind that fish degrades in quality very quickly, even in the fridge. Eat it the day you buy it, unless you buy it frozen. It's easy to overcook, so practice stopping when it is just barely done and get it on the plate immediately. Also, white-fleshed fish tends to be leaner and less flavorful than fish with more colorful flesh; salmon and tuna are both fattier, more colorful and stronger-flavored. Cod, orange roughy, halibut, etc. are white-fleshed and mild. Among shellfish, scallops and shrimp are mild and sweet, while clams and mussels are more potent, acquired tastes.
posted by jon1270 at 8:11 AM on December 17, 2009


Yea, I'd recommend fried catfish. Fried walleye is nice if you live in a northern state, or haddock like sully75 suggests, or flounder if you live on the east coast. I find fried tilapia to have a weird texture, so I don't like it, but it might be more meat-like for you.

Granted, fried fish isn't terribly healthy for you but if it serves as a gateway fish, then so be it.
posted by cabingirl at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2009


I never liked fish either but also wanted to incorporate it into my diet. But I hate the smell of cooking fish in my house so I never want to cook it. So one thing I've tried doing is ordering it when I go out to eat. In a decent restaurant, I know it will be prepared well enough that I can enjoy it, and I don't have to be involved in the prep, cleanup, or lingering effects. One thing I've done at home a number of times, which greatly limits the cooking smell, is to do a simple foil packet in the oven. Put a fillet of whatever mild fish on a piece of foil, pour on some olive oil, add some salt, pepper, onion, and then whatever else you like, like tomato, herbs such as dill, splash of wine, whatever, and wrap it up into a packet that leaves room for it to steam. Then bake (google for times and temps, can't remember). It's simple, non-stinky, and cleanup is a breeze. I second tuna as well. I'm not a fish guy but I like that.
posted by Askr at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2009


I grew up in the midwest and didn't realize I liked fish until I moved to the coast and had fresh ocean-caught fish. Now of course you can get fresh ocean fish practically anywhere, but that experience taught me two things: Fresh is extremely critical to my enjoyment of seafood, and freshwater fish generally sucks compared to saltwater fish.

Agree with the sentiment about trying Tuna steaks, it's the closest thing fish comes to being beef. Tuna from a can does not qualify as Tuna to me, nor even food.

Halibut is another good choice for the I-can't-deal-with-seafood type person. Consider ordering it at a restaurant that knows what to do with it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:16 AM on December 17, 2009


Try brushing soy sauce on your fish prior to cooking to reduce or remove the fishy odor you dislike.
posted by Allee Katze at 8:16 AM on December 17, 2009


Oh and I have to disagree with molecicco on salmon. Salmon has a strong odor especially if overcooked. It doesn't smell if cooked properly, but I swear if it gets even slightly overdone it reeks, and I think that's too much of a chance to take. I like lots of other fish but really dislike salmon due to the smell.
posted by cabingirl at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm definitely not interested in trying raw fish at this stage.

I don't generally eat cooked fish. I don't dig the smell, I don't dig the texture. But sushi? Yes. The taste and texture are entirely different, and much better. I'd prefer not to eat cooked tuna or salmon, but I love them raw.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Clam chowder and stuffed quahogs (or "Clams Casino" in less enlightened areas) are a good start, as is Miso soup, which is based on a japanese fish broth that smells awesome. From there move to calamari, shrimp cocktail, Maryland crabcakes and lobster roll sandwiches. You get a lot of the flavor of the seafood you're eating, but it's complemented by other flavors to ease you into it.

After that, salmon is very, very mild, and has a creamy texture. It's fantastic grilled on the BBQ... just make sure you get de-boned steaks or fillets from the fishmarket, as it can be a pain to get out all of the pin-bones. Salmon is definitely a gateway drug to seafood... a fish even people who don't like fish can eat with enjoyment.

From there, it's largely a matter of taste - some people swear by sea bass and cod, which I can't stand, and I like bluefish, which makes the usual gourmand cringe and whine. Tuna and swordfish steaks can be "fishy" if not cooked with a deft hand, but mahi-mahi and mako seldom fail to please. (Mako is super-rich and tender, like beef tenderloin without the beef flavor and with its own, nice flavor instead.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2009


Don't cook anything acidic (tomato, wine, lemon) in aluminum foil!

Seafood of all types cooks really easilyl in the microwave. I wrap seasoned fish in parchment paper and nuke it.

Could it be that some people who find seafood repulsive actually have allergies to it?
posted by mareli at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2009


The way to learn to start liking seafood is to have good seafood, which means fresh seafood. This is hard to get away from the coasts, as the freshest stuff is necessarily located near where the stuff is caught or harvested. Your other option is to go to a high-end restaurant that specializes in seafood. These types of places tend to have reasonably good connections with suppliers, and as a result their stock is less likely to be frozen for long periods of time. Even the stuff at the fish counter at your local supermarket is likely to have been frozen for a few days, depending on where you get it.

Most Americans cannot afford to eat fish with any regularity. Not good fish anyways. Even tilapia and catfish, two of the cheapest fishes around, can easily be twice the cost of poultry and are still more expensive than pork or beef. I mean, I love seafood, but unless you count canned tuna and anchovies, I'm lucky if I get it more than once, maybe twice a month.
posted by valkyryn at 8:22 AM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I vote for salmon. Either a filet or a steak. You can broil or grill it, put lemon and butter or paprika on it. It's also a pretty mild tasting fish, and since it takes less time to cook than other fish, there won't be quite the same strong smell as comes from other fish. It's especially delicious with a side of asparagus and rice pilaf.

Plus since so many people buy salmon regularly, it's almost always the freshest fish at the supermarket.

But tuna steak is also big on my list (oh, I am trying so hard not to drool on keyboard just thinking about the deliciousness of it) --- though tuna steak will be significantly more expensive than salmon.
posted by zizzle at 8:22 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm like you, totally hate fish. But my husband loves it, and I am not about to do him out of the opportunity to eat fish, so I have taken to attempting it on occasion. Here's what has worked for me:

1) Pick a mild fish to start, a whitefish. If bones squick you out, get the fishmonger to bone and fillet the fish for you.
2) Make sure the fish is fresh as it can be. If you live near a coast, so much the better.
3) Cook it thoroughly, but not to the point of overdone-ness. Get someone who knows fish to help you here (thanks, hon!). Keep it simple, dredge the thing with flour, salt and pepper and fry in a frypan with a bit of butter.
4) Squirt with lemon juice and eat, preferably in pleasant surroundings and with pleasant company.

Create an environment where you have *pleasant* memories and associations from eating fish, and I'm willing to bet you'll start thinking about it differently.
posted by LN at 8:24 AM on December 17, 2009


Some suggestions:

Scallops don't look like fish, just little round pucks of pure delicious. And they don't smell all that fishy. Go to a restaurant and get some seared scallops. That's a good place to start.

White fish tends to be pretty mild, especially poached or baked. If you're not too timid with fish to cook it, sole en papillote is impressive as all hell and also very easy.

Try Ethiopian or Senegalese fish. There may not be a Senegalese restaurant near you if you don't live in a big city, but the Senegalese way of cooking fish often involves tomato-based sauces that cut a lot of the fishy 'smell'. Similarly, the Ethiopian-style sauce cuts out a lot of the fish smell, and the texture of fish + injera is unbelievable.

Ceviche is a Peruvian way of doing fish that involves bathing it in lemon and lime juice and red onion and chiles and other stuff. The fish gets cooked in the acid, soaks up the flavour of the citrus and chiles, and ends up with the texture of raw fish. I actually made someone who hates shrimp love shrimp with a nice pan of shrimp ceviche. You can do it with a lot of different kinds of fish. Try this recipe or go to a restaurant.

Eventually the goal is to realize that the fishy smell is, like, part of what makes fish fucking excellent, and that fishy fish, prepared properly, are incredible. Fresh sardines are a staple summer food at my apartment. But this takes a little while, just like you might acclimate to drinking lattes before you acclimate to drinking black coffee before you can enjoy double ristrettos.
posted by voronoi at 8:28 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am not a huge fan of fish. I'll eat it, but it's definitely not my favorite meal, so I have a good idea on where you're coming from. That being said, I have some suggestions:

- Spoonbill, also known as paddle fish, are great for anti-fish eating folks.
Fried just as you would catfish - breaded, etc. (I'll have to get the recipe from my parents and post it for you later.)I love it, because it doesn't taste fishy. It's very mild, and you dip it in tartar sauce or ketchup. I've had a few friends that are less than eager to eat fish try it, and they have loved it, and asked to be invited for dinner when we have it again. (It does taste a bit like chicken...) It might be hard to come by because it's a seasonal, and likely, regional thing, but if you can get it, you'll probably like it better than other fish.

- Salmon. I personally enjoy the salmon from Outback Steakhouse. Something about their seasoning, or cooking method just makes it taste great. (Which of course, is the idea.) I have also had salmon from other restaurants and liked it, but Outback is my favorite.

-Tuna. Yes, it's fishy, but it's got to be the most common fish people eat as kids. If you're wanting to work your aversion to fish, this could be the best way to dive in. (Pun definitely intended.)
posted by Kimothy at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2009


I wish you luck, my friend. I'm the exact same way as you, and I've tried to like all sorts of fish, but the thought, smell, and taste of seafood is so distasteful to me that I eventually just gave up. I don't think my diet is any less healthy sans-fish, by the way.

Also, as a side note, I think supertasters might be more prone to disliking seafood since they can more acutely pick up on whatever it is that gives fish that fishy taste.
posted by bjork24 at 8:33 AM on December 17, 2009


My first thought was to start with sushi, as it has flavors that are entirely different from fish that's being cooked. But! Since that's out, I'd suggest popcorn shrimp. Pretty much anything that's deep-fried and salted becomes magically delicious, and you likely already know what fried breading tastes like, so you can sort of gauge how you feel about the shrimp on the inside. I'd say the best way to accomplish this would be to go with a seafood-loving friend to a seafood place, order some chicken fingers, and have the friend order some popcorn shrimp, which you can pick off his/her plate as it suits you.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:36 AM on December 17, 2009


What about crab cakes? Crazy delicious. Clam chowder, likewise yummy. Lobster bisque...to die for.

I know you are trying to eat healthy but why don't you try something fried to start out with to get over your initial aversions to it. You'll learn to love or at least not hate the different textures of fish and then you can move on to grilled or broiled fish for a more healthy choice.
posted by mmascolino at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2009


There's a reason why tilapia is called 'fish for people who don't like fish.' I'd start there. My favorite way to use tilapia is in a Thai green curry with coconut milk, lemongrass, chili, and basil. Squeeze a lime on top and you won't think about the fact that you're eating fish.
posted by yellowcandy at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Salmon, to me, is the food of the gods. When done properly, it is definitely the gateway drug to other seafoods, as Slap*Happy describes. Like zizzle, I'd recommend grilling a 4 or 8 oz fillet as follows:

1. Marinate in a Ziplock bag with enough teriyaki sauce to cover it for 20+ minutes. I like SoyVey Veri Teriyaki, but any teriyaki sauce or glaze will do.

2. Remove fish from bag and grill over medium-high to high heat, skin side down, for 5 minutes.

3. Flip, remove skin (it will slide off with only a little help, but it's hot, so be careful), and grill on opposite side for another 4-5 minutes.

4. Flip one final time and finish on the original side for 1 or 2 minutes, or until the fish is somewhat firm in the middle.

You want the fish to be cooked thoroughly, but just barely. When finished, grilled salmon will flake apart very easily. Do not cook it to death!!!

Serve with rice (brown, jasmine, or pilaf) and a Cooked Green Vegetable (broccoli, string beans, asparagus, etc.)
posted by mosk at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2009


Nthing to consider rethinking sushi. I mean, it's crazy how not-fishy it tastes, it's a whole other thing. I find cooked tuna unpleasantly fishy (even though I like a lot of other strongly-flavored things) but raw, it just tastes...clean. No fishy oil on your tongue.

Swordfish steaks are a good entry-level fish. When I was still a picky eater, I learned to like swordfish in the Outer Banks, NC, where a typical prep is to marinate it some Italian dressing and throw it on the grill. It's very steak-y.

I would never walk into the house of someone cooking fish and think "mmm, that is going to be delicious" the way I would of someone roasting a turkey or grilling a burger.

Cornmeal-fried catfish or tilapia. We get basa (Vietnamese catfish) from our local fishmonger that's cheap and excellent and tastes like fresh rushing water.
posted by desuetude at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tilapia, for sure. Light tasting and not fishy at all. Here's how I prepare: Salt on both sides, rest for a few minutes. Cover both sides in flour & your favorite spices. Fry with a bit of oil or butter for 3-5 mins each side, until sides are lightly browned & crispy. Squeeze lemon on top & eat.
posted by gnutron at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2009


My gateway fish was swordfish steak, grilled on the BBQ. I recommend that, if you have access to a grill -- the fishy smell stays outdoors, and the fish tastes meaty and delicious. Lemon, salt, and pepper after it's grilled should do it, I think.
posted by cider at 8:51 AM on December 17, 2009


Cook on the grill. Get whitefish -- ask the seafood guy (find a good one) for something mild. Use lots of butter.

I love lake fish (perch, pickrel). I do not like swordfish or salmon. So YMMV.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2009


Go to Captain D's. You can't tell if you're eating fish or chicken at that place. As the fish planks become more palatable, try to branch out to tilapia.
posted by reenum at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2009


Another sushi anecdote. I always despised fish (or thought I did) until I forced a no-thank-you helping with a friends function. It was definitely a gentle introduction into the world of seafood. No smell or bones or accusing eyes. But if you aren't interested in that route, I'd recommend a tuna steak.
posted by syntheticfaith at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2009


Like others have commented above, I completely detest the flavor of cooked fish of any description, and I adore sushi.
posted by pemberkins at 9:09 AM on December 17, 2009


I am bristling at a lot of these suggestions, because I believe it is a crime to waste endangered fish on someone who doesn't even like fish. And a lot of these suggestions are both expensive and cruel to the environment.

I would try to find a local, sustainable fish restaurant. It is very popular nowadays. Nothing fresh is going to taste fishy and these places often focus on local.

My suggestion: Mahi Mahi is sometimes ok, and it is an extremely non-fishy type of fish, kind of like a nice tuna steak (however expensive). I personally love mackeral, but it is not really a beginner's fish. Here is a handy guide of what is not evil to eat.

As far as preparation: Fish tacos is always a good fish avenue for people who hate it. Also if you go with tilapia you can make a great casserole by layering it in a pan with some olive oil, and mixing ritz crackers crushed up with canned crabmeat. Serve with lots of lemon. It was a family favorite as a kid even though I didn't like fish.
posted by shownomercy at 9:19 AM on December 17, 2009


Thank you all for the wonderful answers so far! Thanks especially to pointing out to me the enviromental problems with eating fish - I had no idea! I am not privy to the seafood-eating world. :c) I will definitely ensure that what I do eat is environmentally friendly; I am a big proponent of that. So no worries!
posted by sickinthehead at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2009


N-thing that "fresh" is the key here.

Somewhere along in my teenage years, the "fish smell" started really turning my stomach. Particularly the smell of cooking shrimp. I started avoiding fish all around.

My mom lived at the time in the San Francisco area. She had to explain to me that if it smells "fishy" then it's not fresh. Fresh fish does not smell like that. She took to me to places that serve fish that was basically caught that very morning, and hey she was right, I started finding that I could stand eating fish again.

Then one night she had Ahi tuna steaks at home. She'd lightly marinated them I think. I saw her "cooking" them by only searing them quickly on the outsides. I was seriously apprehensive about this - uh, mom, you want me to eat almost raw fish?? She made me a deal: I had to at least try it that way, and if I really didn't like it she'd put mine back on to cook through. So I tried it - and y'know? It was fine. In fact, the mostly-rawness of it cuts down on that "too soft/flaky" texture that sometimes turns me off about fish. (y'know, when you look at it and your brain says "meat" so it expects something firm like chicken or pork but then its all soft and flaky which makes something in your brain/stomach think "ew this is wrong"? Maybe that's just me.)

Anyway. I still don't eat shrimp. I've tried calamari but don't really like it - definitely don't like it when it comes with tentacles (it's like little Cthulhus on the plate), and even without it's like rubber bands in sauce. Scallops I like. Tuna, salmon, halibut, swordfish - all in steak or fillet form, no canned. I've even cooked sole meuniere. But FRESH is the key. Buy fresh in the store and cook that very night. I find even frozen can be iffy - for example, Trader Joe's has good frozen fish. Problem is the size of the packaging. I cook just for myself, but they always pack 2-3 pieces together, and I find if I take just one out to thaw, no matter how tightly I try to re-wrap the remaining frozen ones, they end up with the bad fish taste when I thaw them later. (the first one thawed comes out fine - the ones that stay in the freezer without the original vaccum pack seal end up bad.) So I don't even do frozen fish anymore.
posted by dnash at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2009


I grew up not liking fish, but in hindsight that might have been because of the method of preparation or something. I like it fine now.

I agree that the quality of fish is a big deal. Don't cheap out.

I agree that the flavor and texture of swordfish (which is expensive) would probably appeal to the fish-avoidant. Likewise shark and marlin. (Sadly, all evil or semi-evil. But delicious.)
posted by adamrice at 9:35 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm definitely not interested in trying raw fish at this stage.

Try ordering salmon tempura at a nice sushi place. Anything tempura is actually lightly battered and fried instead of being raw. It's definitely entry level sushi for the raw fish averse.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2009


Me too; can't stand the smell. Steam cooking seems to help; perhaps it's the extra water vapour. Another thing that helps is cooking with aromatic seasonings. Here's a recipe for Chinese Steamed Fish with Garlic and Ginger, and another for Cantonese Sea Bass.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:44 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm going to be the lone dissenter asking "what's wrong with just...not eating fish?" Yes, there are benefits to fish, but I doubt that the nutritional benefits can't be found in other foods that you find more pleasurable.

However, I can definitely agree that the fresher the fish, the more pleasant it is to cook and eat. Shellfish doesn't necessarily smell "fishy" when it's being cooked, and it has all the benefits of fish.

Also, the particular fish you eat may make a difference -- some of the oilier fishes, like bluefish, have a stronger smell and taste than milder fish (like tilapia). That may have made a difference in your past -- I grew up on a lot of fish, but that was largely because we caught it the day we ate it (my grandparents lived on Cape Cod), and there is no better fish than fish you catch that day, I promise you. But bluefish was what we mostly ate, which others are puzzled by ("doesn't the smell bug you?") Even my fish-loving friends find bluefish really strong.

So the kind of fish and the freshness seem to be key here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2009


Living in New Orleans made me like (some) seafood. Mostly shrimp, which is easy to deal with when it is mixed with all the other meats and flavors in jambalaya, or fried in po boys, or covered in really spicy sauce. Same for oysters and crawfish. Crustaceans and mollusks like these may be more disgusting to you than a fillet, but they're not to me, especially when they're deep fried and edible in one or two bites.
posted by jalexc at 9:49 AM on December 17, 2009


Just a note of reassurance. Some people, for whatever reason, can not enjoy fish or other seafood. My wife is one of them. So, if you follow everyone's great tips, and you still can't eat the stuff, it's OK. I applaud you for giving this a shot. Don't feel like you've "failed" or anything like that if it doesn't work out.

Bon Appetit!
posted by Citrus at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many good suggestions (mmmm fish tacos!), but, without trying to derail, I'd add that there is quite some debate over the prejudice for 'fresh' fish.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2009


What valkyryn said. Truly fresh fish is practically a different food entirely from most grocery-store and most restaurant fish. On the coast you have better access to good seafood, but be warned, because even on the coast most restuarants serve seafood that's already 4 days old or so - they aren't buying off the docks, they buy at centralized auctions, and the process of getting the fish from boat to auction to distributor to warehouse to restaurant or to grocery store, including packaging, takes at least one day and often more. Oddly, sometimes fresh fish that's made an air trip to the Midwest can be fresher than fish eaten at a dockside shanty in New England, for just this reason.

This always seems like exaggerated advice, but it's true. I hated all seafood, like you, until I worked at a restaurant which took its fish as a sacred trust. Little by little I tried one or two things at a time until I developed a true taste for and enthusiasm for seafood. I think I started with flounder and cod, eventually added scallops, and because they were all fresh they were totally sweet and non-fishy. After that I tried a bunch of other stuff that I still like. So don't underestimate the power of good, truly fresh fish. If you aren't sure where to look, try a local fishmonger instead of the grocery store. They are also good people to ask what restuarants to patronize, because most fishmongers wholesale as well.
posted by Miko at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2009


I asked quite a similar question in 2007, and I have to break it to you:

Sometimes you just can't make yourself like something that's gross.

And you know what? Fish is gross. (I mean, people are recommending catfish. Take a good look at catfish. Do you really want to, like, put that in your mouth??? ...Really?!)

I spent several years tasting all sorts of expensive, fresh fish prepared in all different kinds of ways. From simple to fussy, from swordfish to tilapia to salmon. I was very open-minded about it for a long time, convincing myself that there was a fish out there that would finally help me to see the light.

It never happened. Why? Because fish is gross. If humans were meant to eat fish, they'd be frolicking in the forests instead of swimming around underwater in their own filth, eating heavy metals and garbage that we dump in the oceans and crap.

Take some Omega-3 supplements, get your lean protein elsewhere, and stop torturing yourself. The more of us who just admit that we think fish is gross, the more fish-lovers will get used to it and stop acting so goddamn weirded out when we say we don't eat seafood.
posted by tastybrains at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


What about sushi?

I'm definitely not interested in trying raw fish at this stage.


Not all sushi involves raw fish. Strictly speaking, it is the vinegared rice, not raw seafood, that makes sushi sushi. Shrimp, crab, and eel are generally cooked when they appear in sushi. (I think octopus too, but octopus can have kind of a weird rubbery texture, so I wouldn't recommend it for the first-timer trying-to-learn-to-like-seafood person.) Some sushi has no seafood at all (although that type isn't an answer to your question).

Still, I'd encourage you to try the raw fish sushi at some point, because that's really the best stuff. I too once had the "raw fish, eww" attitude, until out to dinner with some friends about ten years ago, and someone suggested we split a sushi appetizer, and I said, "eh, OK, I'll try it," and my response after trying it was roughly OMG THIS IS WONDERFUL HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE?? Been a huge fan of sushi ever since.

I'll also join in all the comments above against canned tuna. Horrid stuff. Maybe because I know what tuna is supposed to taste like, and canned tuna is nothing like it. I think I read or heard somewhere (possibly on Good Eats) that canned tuna is the way it is because it's basically way-way-way-overcooked during the canning process. Canned salmon isn't much better, either.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:02 AM on December 17, 2009


I would say: start with enjoying shellfish (how can you not enjoy shellfish!!?? - unless you are allergic, poor souls). And if that's all you can handle, stick with the shellfish. But I think that after you have welcomed shellfish into your life, other fish will follow.

When you go our for dinner, order the seafood appetizers. Go to a restaurant that serves Alaskan king crab and have that. Crab is mild and even a little bit sweet. Soooo good. As are scallops, either on their own or wrapped in bacon. Saute shrimp in butter, garlic, cajun spices and hot sauce and serve over rice.

Lobster and mussels are great, but stronger tasting, as others have pointed out.

Someday, you may even try raw oysters - really earthy tasing, not fishy. But that pushes the envelope for most people.
posted by kitcat at 11:18 AM on December 17, 2009


tastybrains: your response is so hilarious. I totally agree with you, the idea of eating fish is repulsive. Part of the reason I've decided to go on this fish-eating journey is because I suffer from migraines and have had to adopt a very strict diet in order to control them. I am craving options. I am still hoping there will be a fish out there that helps me see the light.
posted by sickinthehead at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2009


I drew a line a few years back, that while the fish of the world were safe from me, outright WAR had been declared on mollusks and crustaceans.

If it's got a shell, it's goes down my gullet. Whether that's really healthy in the long term is beside the point. I just don't like fish, despite having tried everything I could get my hands on.

You have a lot of good suggestions here, and I think you should try everything. But if it ain't working for you, it just ain't working.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2009


Nthing crabcakes (at a decent restaurant). You can often order them as an appetizer. Oh, and coconut shrimp.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2009


One more thing. I don't care for fish fish unless it's deep-fried in batter. And that's a once or twice a year kind of treat. But fish tacos are a great taste-hider. When I fed them to Mr. kitcat, he didn't realize he was eating fish until I told him (he likes fish, so I wasn't trying to trick him. That would be evil).

Also, you could eat your fish with liberal amounts of tartar sauce.
posted by kitcat at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2009


I too struggle with your aversion too seafood / fish . I never grew up eating it. I have forced myself to eat all types of seafood. Some of it is just........disgusting. I can't get around the smell / taste of certain types of fish. With that said, there are some things I enjoy. Why not start with good old fashioned fish and chips with tartar sauce?
posted by jasondigitized at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2009


I have a similar problem. I did not grow up eating fish and so it is strange to me but my boyfriend loves it and loves to cook it. I'm trying new things and liking it more and more.

My recommendations: Crab cakes (you can mix in bread crumbs and spices) and smoked salmon or smoked artic char... after being smoked for 12 hours, the "fishy" taste is pretty subdued and you can top with cream cheese or eat it on a cracker, cucumber, etc. so you are incorporating other flavors and textures that just fish.
posted by roxie5 at 2:47 PM on December 17, 2009


I am with you all the way on the not liking fish, but every once in a while I decide to give it a try again because more variety in one's diet seems like it could only be a good thing. Last week I had some smoked salmon and it was...really not at all bad or overly fishy. I'm not going to run out and start living on smoked salmon or anything, but it was a neutral experience rather than a "yuck!" experience, and for me and fish, that's a big step.

So yeah, maybe give good smoked salmon a try.

If you find the magic gateway fish, come back and post about it, please!
posted by Stacey at 3:46 PM on December 17, 2009


Swordfish with fresh salsa. The salsa helps negate the fishiness. (Whole foods has a good frozen fish selection).
posted by ejaned8 at 4:47 PM on December 17, 2009


Oh, I should probably chime in with something helpful ... sushi might sound gross in theory, but to me (an avid seafood-hater), it's a lot more tolerable than HOT fish. Basically, any seafood that is chilled is more tolerable to me.

I can usually eat a few pieces of a sushi roll without getting my gag-reflex on (and sometimes I have even kind of enjoyed it if I didn't think too much about the piece of fish tucked in there). I think it is worth trying fish in sushi form, whether it is cooked or raw fish, and whether it is fish or shellfish in it, because if it is combined with rice and seaweed and other things (sometimes vegetables or sauces), the taste and texture are so complex that the expected *wrong* taste & texture of seafood is really masked by the rest of the stuff. Ease into it with some vegetarian sushi rolls so you have a baseline for the texture and taste of sushi w/o fish, and then try a California roll or an Alaska roll or a spicy tuna roll (but only if they do not serve the spicy tuna roll warm). Those are usually the least offensive seafood-containing sushis I've tried.

Though, really, I've stopped pretending. I just order vegetarian sushi whenever I go out now.
posted by tastybrains at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2009


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