Replace Salmon and Tuna with these 5 "Trash" Fish Recipes
Everyone knows how to make meals out of shrimp, tuna, or swordfish, but what about the stuff fishermen catch that isn’t a popular type of seafood? Bycatch, or “trash fish,” is the name for these extras, and they’ve been showing up on menus recently as chefs around the country create delicious dishes from these previously unwanted fish species. Restaurants like The Refinery in Tampa, FL and the Momofuku Ssäm Bar in NYC have already jumped on board with some of their specials. If you think this sustainable practice is right for your business, here are a few recipes to get you started.
Atlantic or European Pollock (not to be confused with Alaskan Pollock, which is a completely different fish) is often marketed as an alternative to cod due to its similar taste and texture. It’s been consumed all over the world in a multitude of ways, but due to its grayish coloring, it’s usually breaded in some way. This recipe for beer-battered fish and chips is a great lunchtime or dinner staple, especially when served with tartar sauce.
With a leathery outer skin that can be difficult to cut and a large head that takes up most of the body, triggerfish have been considered “trash” for years. They’re hard to clean, but totally worth it. With a meaty texture and a sweet, rich taste, they're amazing with capers, white wine, and lemon flavors. Triggerfish is a great ingredient to add to your signature sushi rolls, as well.
Lionfish are a carnivorous species with no natural predators, so their population tends to be higher than their habitat can handle. That makes for the perfect option for a sustainable, eco-friendly meal! Lionfish has a delicate flavor and a texture similar to grouper. This sandwich recipe combines a simple mixture of herbs, homemade caper cole slaw, and a cumin-lime creme fraiche for a light, zesty appetizer or lunch special.
Sheepshead, also known as convict fish, are easily recognizable by their large, human-like teeth, which are used for crushing shellfish, and the black stripes running down the side of its body. It can be difficult to clean, so it’s usually passed over. However, the meat inside is moist, firm, and sweet like shellfish. It also absorbs many of the flavors it's cooked with, making it a versatile ingredient. In this recipe, the fish is sauteed and paired with a white wine tomato sauce.
5. Sea Robin
These bottom feeders no longer have to be bottom-of-the-barrel. Sea robins, or gurnards, have a firm, white meat that tends to hold together well. It’s popular in Europe in soups and stews, like the French bouillabaisse. This soup is simple fare that’s great with a slice of hearty bread in any style of restaurant.
So, whether you want to serve up a classic fish and chips lunch or an elegant seafood dinner, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use sustainable seafood options. Popular fish like salmon, tuna, and grouper are being overfished, making them more endangered and more expensive. Bycatch is just as good, less expensive, and more sustainable, so the choice is easy. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s dinner.