I specialize in “odd” fish. What is odd? Something you cannot normally get in a supermarket, or even in most fish markets. Fish you either must catch yourself or discover at a truly great market. I’m talking about fresh anchovies, shad, sculpins, sharks, suckers, oyster toads, whitebait and the like. It’s kind of a grab-bag of fishes, but all are delicious in their own way.
Many of these fish are derided by most Americans as “trash fish.” Why? Not because they taste icky, but because they are ugly, or have more bones than “easy” fish such as striped bass or salmon. The extra set of bones makes then trickier to eat, but they are often fuller flavored than their pale cousins.
A word on sharks, rays and skates. There has been a lot of controversy about eating these cartilaginous fishes, and much of it is warranted. Shark and skate populations are nosediving worldwide, and many species are in serious trouble. But not all. There are a few sharks I can in good conscience recommend that you buy in a supermarket: Dogfish, thresher shark and mako caught in the American or Canadian part of the Pacific Ocean. (Here is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch page for sharks.) If by chance you can find leopard shark in a market, by all means buy it. You will likely only see it in California, however.
Sharks, Skates, Rays
Shark with Mushroom Sauce
Spanish Shark with Tomatoes
Shark, Tuna or Sturgeon 'Glutton's Style'
Thai Green Curry with Fish
Skate Wing with Brown Butter and Capers
Crispy Fish Skin Chicharrons
Anchovies: Spaghetti con Acciughe
Swedish Pickled Herring
Scottish Oat-Crusted Herring
Boneless Fried Shad
How to Smoke Shad
Smoked Shad Rillettes
Smoked Shad Aioli
Sichuan Crispy-Fried Carp
Frogs and Turtles
Frog Legs, French Style
Creole Turtle Soup
Some of My Recipes from About.com
I used to be the fish and seafood writer for the New York Times Co.’s About.com website, and many of my recipes are still online over there. These links take you over to them.
MORE on LITTLE FISH
- Grilled fresh anchovies
- Grilled Stuffed Sardines
- Skate wing with brown butter
- Fried Whole Smelt
- How to Make Boquerones, or Spanish white anchovies
- Virginia Baked Shad
- Boneless Shad Fingers
- Shad Cakes, excellent with any bony fish
- Shad Roe with Bacon
- Salt-Cured Shad Roe (bottarga)
- Shad Roe Bottarga Pasta Sardinian Style