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Tilapia Tastes Good

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  • Tilapia Tastes Good

    I can't believe I could say this. Tilapia is that cheap pond-grown fish that grows practically everywhere because it is a very hard species. It doesn't look pretty, but neither is it ugly such as the pangasius, a large catfish whom you almost never see except as filet, for good reason. There is always a telltale taste to tilapia- unmistakably needing to be masked by the overpowering combination of vinegar and garlic.

    But today I had my second filling of superb-tasting tilapia, which confirmed my suspicions on why a typical tilapia tastes bad. I had tasted my first satisfying meal of a tilapia a month ago, but was disappointed that until now, subsequent tilapia I've consumed reverted to the taste associated with live tilapia bought at the public market.

    By now, you would have figured out that all my tilapia taste experiences of the past month have to do with tilapia grown in my fishpond. Because of clean water conditions, and better feed, they were better tilapia. They were not grown in crowded ponds. Their innards are clean and not the tyoical dirty black. Yet, not all of the tilapia grown in my pond tasted great.

    So what was it that made first and last homegrown tilapia taste great? They were both caught from the fishpond and went directly to the butcher's block, without being temporarily held in a small aerated tank. These fish never got exposed to ammonia buildup and never got burdened by ammonia toxicity.

    We therefore should give tilapia its due praise and shouldn't blame the tilapia for tasting bad, it tastes bad because it is sold live in ammonia-intoxicated water. Apparently, people like buying 'live' fish and are getting what they want, but are getting 'fresh' fish that are ammonia-intoxicated, not realizing that the poor taste is a result of poor handling. Since people have come to expect the poor taste as a trade-off for the low price in a tilapia, it begs the question if people would pay a premium for superb-tasting tilapia if fish mongers can spare the added expense of delivering fresh live tilapia that isn't ammonia-intoxicated?

    I also wonder if we would just be better off eating frozen tilapia that weren't ammonia-intoxicated?

    p.s. I'm describing tilapia sold in the Philippines, in public markets. The way it is sold may differ elsewhere.
  • #2

    You can also purge it for a week with no feeding in a clean tank or use lemon on it before cooking to get rid of the "homegrown" smell/taste.


    • #3

      It's not that the poor taste came from it being homegrown, it's that it's not a good idea to park the tilapia in a container that has no biofilter. That is usually the case with commercially bought live tilapia, but it also happens with homegrown tilapia. If you have homegrown tilapia, you avoid the bad taste by going straight from the pond to the dinner table. No ammonia buildup and toxicity, no undesirable taste, and hence no need to mask its flavor.


      • #4

        I prefer the mercury ladden, oil covered grouper here in the Gulf of Mexico.


        • #5

          Originally posted by Appliance Guy View Post
          I prefer the mercury ladden, oil covered grouper here in the Gulf of Mexico.
          Beer-battered and deep-fried? It'll go well with Pabst.


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