I love me some fish – it’s one of my favorite proteins for several good reasons. Dark or fatty fish (i.e. salmon, tuna, sardines, & mackeral) are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids which help to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, regulate the heartbeat, and benefit brain and nerve functions. Those Omega 3 acids also increase collagen production which leads to improved hair and skin – less wrinkles folks! But all this good stuff aside, fish are just plain yummy and there are so many varieties (i.e. taste & texture) to choose from.
As a child, we would have fish at least three times a week and, while I know that most folks don’t like the taste, smell, or texture of fish, it’s been a way of life for me before I even knew that it was darned good for me too. Thus, finding good fish, and by that I mean fresh, well-cleaned (no scales and gills inside; yes, that has happened folks), tasty fish was a bit tricky as I first got to Austria. My beloved Snappers, Groupers, Grunts, Tuna, Mahi-mahi, Conch, Crawfish, Lobster…the list is endless; just aren’t as readily available as I was used to. It took a bit of effort to find locations that offered affordable product. Once I did, identifying them was another task – the fish sold here comes either from the Austria’s fresh water farms or is imported from their Mediterranean neighbors. Despite the frustration, I soon learned new fish, such as Saibling, Barsch, Karpfen, & more, as I subsisted on lots and lots of Salmon.
After a lot of trial-and-error, I finally found a consistent supplier who offered the quality and type of fish that I’d be happy to eat. Contrary to belief, all fish are not created equal and some type lend themselves to specific preparations better than others. This was not an easy task and I’m sure my husband and his family members must have been fed-up with my ‘annoying’ tastes. Although, when we did happen upon a great restaurant, the joy in their faces were equal to mine. To date, we’ve only found three restaurants where I will eat fish: Akropolis Restaurant (Greek), Benkei (Japanese), and Ferdis (Italian). For home preparation, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to access and afford salmon (it’s crazy expensive here) but uncooked, deveined shrimp in its shell is almost impossible and again it’s not cheap.
Then I was presented with the Barsch family and, so far, the Red- and Wolffsbarsch have become my new favorites. The Redbarsch looks a bit like a Snapper except it’s got some really defined gills covers with sharp thorn-like projections. The Wolffsbarsch is completely new to me and scared the crap out of me with its Catfish-like feelers (and yup, like a Catfish, it’s a bottomfeeder). One can find both farm-raised and wild options (my preference). They’re Mediterranean dwellers and hunters (again, my preference). I’ve been raised on the concept that wild hunters are more active, have a broader nutrition span and thus, are better for consumption. (Think farm-raised versus free-range chicken).
So, despite the extended search and many disappointments, I’m happy that finally, there are some affordable, delicious, and nutritious options to be found. A little bit of experimenting, and I was able to discover the best preparations for these delicacies. Obviously, the way we season back home does not work; but the Mediterranean-style is beyond delicious! Perhaps my palate has become accustomed to milder preparations.
Here’s a few dishes I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. (FYI, clicking on the images takes you the slideshow version.) Interested in the Mediterranean herb marinade or one of the recipes? Let me know and it’ll be the next post.