Cheap, Poison-Free Fish
What you need to know about fish. How to buy it, cook it and eat it on a budget.
Keepin' it Grill
Cooking fish doesn’t have to be intimidating. The most important thing is to understand how your particular cut of fish should be cooked. “Fish cooked on the bone is more flavorful than fish cooked off the bone," Black says. "If you’re a novice, don’t try a whole fish,” but if you’re up for the challenge, he suggests, “First, season the cavity and get the scales off. I generally make two to three cuts towards the head into the meat. This is mostly to heat the fish through the back bone. Spray some foil with Pam and lay it on the grill. A really easy way to check if the fish is cooking is to pull the meat up behind the head.”
For more flavor, contrast a marinade with the type of fish. “If it’s a flavorful fish, like tuna or salmon, you don’t need to do a whole lot to it,” he recommends. For lighter, flakier fish, there are a variety of marinade flavors you can add depending on your taste. “You can have Italian, Southwestern or Mediterranean,” Black notes. Italian marinades include flat-leaf parsley, tomatoes or white wine. Southwestern marinades are often made with jalapeños, cilantro or lime juice, while Mediterranean marinades use a great deal of garlic and olive oil.
If your kitchen is currently only used for grilled cheese sandwiches, start with an easier fish. Mahi-mahi is a great option because it's cooked through the entire cut. Other fish, like tuna, are fickle and require specific temperatures or they'll overcook.
Toxicity & Sustainability
If you’re still stuck on canned tuna, don’t stress. “I try not to be too elitist about fish,” Black says, but just "make sure to find tuna that has no bycatch.” Bycatch is fish caught unintentionally, and raises sustainability issues. A great canned tuna option is American Tuna, a high quality wild albacore tuna.
Mercury levels are a real concern with tuna, but Black believes that balance is key to avoiding toxicity. “I eat fish three to four times a week, but I only eat salmon three times a year. Stay away from the same fish. Also, bigger and more mature fish tend to have more mercury.” He adds, “Nothing is sustainable if everyone turns their appetite to it. The key is to mix it up.” Enhance your diet while avoiding mercury poisoning by choosing fish that are traceable, ecologically sustainable and look more appetizing than your high school’s tuna surprise.