Fish monger in Turkey holding up his prize catch

Chicken of the Sea

posted by Veronique Koch on 16 January 2013

How many different fish have you eaten? Unless you grew up on a coast, we are willing to bet you can count them on your fingers. A recent article in The Atlantic revealed what has been coined as the “chickenization of the sea.” But even though we’re creatures of habit, does dinner have to be boring?


At a local supermarket, you are likely to find the usual suspects: salmon, tuna, shrimp, tilapia, red snapper, and maybe grouper. But what about hog fish or trigger fish or catfish? These delicious fish can serve as substitutes for the fish found in your favorite recipes.


Overfishing has been, and continues to be a huge problem. Eating a little bit of everything is one solution. Mussels Monday! Tilapia (domestic!) Tuesday! You get the idea.


Eating a variety of fish is also good for our health. Many fish contain contaminants from pollutants in the ocean, like methylmercury. A recent study from the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine found that 84% of fish have unsafe levels of mercury. Like with any food, moderation is key, and eating lesser-known fish, preferably at the bottom of the food chain, can reduce our levels of exposure.


Perhaps it’s time for restaurant chefs to trust their customers’ palates enough to try news things and introduce a new species. Then these curious restaurant goers can go to their fish mongers and ask for the same fish, which will be passed along to the fishermen and give the “popular kids” of the sea a little break and a chance at recovery.


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