Top Five Eating Fish

This is the second guest post in a 3-part guide for fish lovers by fishing expert Ben Caddaye.

Ben has been fishing for more than 35 years and writing about it for 20. He's a feature writer for Fishing World magazine and has been a columnist for Canberra's Chronicle newspaper since 2005.

If you missed his first post in this 3-part series, read about it here - the pitfalls of purchasing seafood in Australia.

Keep reading to find out Ben's top five eating fish!

I know a surprisingly large number of people who don’t like fish.

Grill (pardon the pun) these non-seafood fans and you usually find their dislike of fish has its roots in a bad experience with a sub-standard product.

In short, quite a lot of these people have simply never tasted a top quality eating fish fresh from the water.

And I almost guarantee that if you served a fresh, well-prepared fillet from one of our blue-ribbon eating species to one of these non-fish fans, they’d be pleasantly surprised.

Who knows, they may even become a convert!

So what are our top eating fish? Ask half-a-dozen seafood connoisseurs and you’re likely to get as many different answers. In fact, it’s a debate that’s likely to result in more questions than answers.

But to get the conversation underway, I’ve put together a list of my top five eating fish, as well as a few recommendations on how each should be prepared.

I’ve given priority to fish species easily available to people living in the southern states, especially south-eastern Australia. Some species you may have heard of, others might be a bit of a surprise.

Have a read and let us know what you think!

5. Snapper

Snapper

Snapper

The good old snapper makes it in at number five on my list. Regarded by many as the best eating fish in the sea, snapper have firm, white, sweet flesh that suits a variety of cooking methods. Snapper lends itself beautifully to Asian-inspired dishes featuring chilli, ginger and soy sauce. Smallish fish (under 2kg) tend to have the sweetest meat.

4. King George Whiting

King George Whiting

King George Whiting

Abundant in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the aptly named King George whiting is a fish fit for royalty. Delectable firm, white flesh makes King Georges highly sought after in restaurants and fishmongers in the southern states. They often command top dollar but they’re worth every cent (if they’re fresh). In terms of preparation, keep it simple – a dash of lemon, butter and salt and pepper is all you need to dine like a king! 

3. Pigfish

Pigfish

Pigfish

The unfortunately named pigfish is the odd one out on my list. I’d wager that most seafood consumers have never seen one, let along eaten one. But if you get the chance, definitely try a fillet from one these guys – they are absolutely sublime! Common over the reefs off the NSW south coast, pigfish leave snapper for dead on the plate (no, honestly, it’s true). They’re not big, but they have a unique richness and flavour that you have to experience to appreciate. I’ve seen them for sale for more than $50 a kilo but you don’t always have to pay that much. My advice: find one, cook it and eat it!

2. Mahi mahi

Mahi mahi

Mahi mahi

Also known as dolphin fish or dorado, mahi mahi are a pelagic species caught in temperate to tropical waters around the world. They’re very common off our east coast in the warmer months where they’re caught by anglersfishing for game fish like marlin and tuna. Mahi mahi boast very firm but delicate flesh and are almost impossible to ruin in the kitchen. A mahi mahi steak cooked for a minute or two either side and served with a squeeze of lemon and pile of chips is heaven on earth. The great thing about mahai mahi is they’re the fastest growing fish in the sea, making them a very sustainable choice at the counter. 

1. Tiger flathead

Tiger flathead

Tiger flathead

Readers may already be shaking their heads, but I’ve given flathead (specifically tiger flathead) my top gong for two reasons: consistency and availability. I challenge anyone to find a species more reliable on the plate than the humble flattie. Tigers come from deep water off the south coast and are easily the tastiest of the common flathead species, rivalling snapper, whiting and John dory in the culinary stakes. I love tiger flattie fillets rolled in a bit of seasoned flour and pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil. They’re also perfect for Asian dishes or done in beer batter with a side of fries. In fact, they’re perfect for just about every fish dish you can imagine.

(Apologies to the many species that just missed out, including Spanish mackerel, Atlantic salmon, sand whiting, albacore, yellowfin tuna, sand flathead and flounder).

For more guests posts from Ben Caddaye, check out these links: