Updated: Feb 3, 2022
The ocean makes up over 70% of our world and is still significantly unexplored, as a result we are still discovering new species to this day which we have never seen before! With such a vast array of seafood available to us today, why limit yourself to only eating fish you know? Some of our favorite, more underrated fish here at BST include parrot fish, monkfish, ribbonfish and wahoo which are all species you may have never tried or even heard of. The ocean has so much to offer the culinary world, step out of your comfort zone and try something new so you can see what you may be missing out on!
When you hear about parrots, most people’s brains bring them right to birds, however they can be fish too! Parrotfish are incredibly colorful and beautiful fish, with over 80 identified species. Their color varies greatly among males, females, and juveniles and they spend about 90% of their day eating algae. The parrotfish gets its name from its ‘beak’, which is made up of teeth which are fused together, allowing them to eat algae and perform their essential job of cleaning coral reefs. Their digestive system includes teeth inside their throats, further breaking down the algae they consume into a fine white sand, which give South Pacific beaches their famous white sand beaches. Parrotfish fillets are white, meaty, easy to sauté or braise and have a sweet, shellfish-like flavor. Although it is not a commonly consumed fish in the United States, it is a delicacy in other parts of the world, even being considered “royal food” at one point in Polynesia and was only eaten by the King. Here at BST we only carry responsibly sourced parrotfish and as a result it is not something we always have available, but when you see it on our price sheet we highly advise giving it a try!
Unlike the beautiful and colorful parrot fish, the appearance alone of a monkfish can be fuel for your nightmares! This scary looking fish has a broad head with a large mouth full of long, sharp teeth, and a narrow tapering body. Aside from its spooky appearance, monkfish is incredibly unique because it has a meaty, boneless tail which is very similar in taste and texture to lobster, however, can tend to be a bit sweeter and not as rubbery which most would view as a bonus! Fresh, raw monkfish is pale gray or off white in color (much like scallops or lobster) and has a blue-ish membrane under its skin that should be removed before baking or grilling. If you can get past its terrifying appearance when its alive, it is a delight to eat and may even shoot to the top spot as your favorite seafood if you get the chance to try it.
Much like monkfish, ribbonfish are another terrifying looking creature, however despite their appearance and intimidating sharp teeth, is an incredibly tasty fish that should not be overlooked. It has been said that it resembles flounder in taste, and some even prefer it over flounder! Its narrow body and thin fillet would lead many anglers to believe these are not worth keeping due to the small yield and lack of meat, however the taste along with the amazing health benefits make this underutilized fish shine. In addition to being a very calorie dense fish (packing 350 calories into a 100 gram serving) it is also amazing for human heart health. Ribbonfish contain omega-3, DHA, and EPA oils that can improve the circulation of blood in the body which prevents the formation of thrombosis, or the clotting of blood inside the blood vessels. Ribbonfish are not commonly consumed in the United States, however as more people discover how delicious they are, it is beginning to pop up more and more in dishes such as ribbon lobster rolls, which is made up of a chunk of lobster meat wrapped in a ribbonfish fillet. Ribbonfish is another fish BST does not always carry, but absolutely not a fish you want to pass up!
Wahoo is another incredible fish you don’t want to miss out on, and it also known as ‘Ono’ in Hawaii meaning “good to eat.” That alone should tell you if you have never had this fish before, to add it to the list! European explorers who first mapped the Hawaiian Islands found Wahoo in abundance around the island of Oahu, which early maps indicate was commonly mis-spelled as “Wahoo,” which is where this fish is believed to have gotten its name. They are among the fastest fish in the ocean, with the ability to hit speeds of up to almost 50 miles per hour and can grow as large as 100 pounds (although they average between 10-30lbs.) This truly is a delicious fish with a firm texture and a mild yet sweet taste which is flakey and delicate when cooked. Due to its meaty texture, it is great when grilled, baked, or broiled, but also can be enjoyed as sushi. Take advantage of the opportunity and pick some up next time you see it because this is not a fish you want to miss!
With these four fish, we haven’t even scratched the surface of how much seafood there is available these days. Just because we don’t see it on menus or in grocery stores does not mean it is not an incredibly delicious fish that is worth adding to your repertoire. When it comes to sustainability, the more popular a fish becomes in the world, the more likely the sustainability of it will be put at risk and with so many fish in the sea there is never a shortage of similar alternatives. Going with these less common alternatives not only takes pressure off heavily commercialized species, but also opens your eyes to what else is available out there! The next time you decide to have fish for dinner or want to add something new to your menu, step outside your comfort zone, grab a fish you have never tried before and see how it stacks up!