- We spoke with two chefs to ask what seafood/fish people should avoid and why.
- Avoid the seafood special, especially if it falls on a Monday.
- Only order seafood if you know where it came from, and don't go for the farm-raised fish.
If something smells fishy, it might be your local restaurant's seafood special after a long weekend. Rumor has it that unless you're dining at a seafood restaurant, ordering fish can be a risky option.
We decided to find out the truth behind this rumor, and asked two chefs — "Top Chef" finalist Silvia Barban (executive chef at Aita and LaRina), and James Briscione, Director of Culinary Research at the Institute of Culinary Education — about the seafood mistakes you're making.
Don't get the seafood special
Have you ever noticed that when you go out to eat, your server will usually rattle off at least one fish special? There's a reason for that.
"Specials are tricky in restaurants," chef Silvia Barban said. "It could be the most fresh and delicious special, but in some restaurants, specials are the way to clean up the fridge."
Her tip? Check out the accompanying produce that comes with a fish special to see if it matches anything else on the menu. If it does, you could be eating "fridge leftovers."
Also, even though Anthony Bourdain says this is no longer the case, it's been a long-held "insider secret" that you should never order seafood at a restaurant that does not specialize in fish on Sundays or Mondays.
Why? At that point in the week, the fish may already be several days old since restaurants generally make their orders at fish mongers on Thursdays — before the busy weekend.
Avoid catfish and tilapia
There are certain fish that are more prone to being farm-raised, like catfish and tilapia. Farm-raised seafood (as opposed to wild-caught) is oftentimes injected with antibiotics and chemical treatments. Farm-raised seafood is also more likely to contain trace pollutants. A restaurant that knows about and supports wild-caught, sustainable fish is better for the environment and, most likely, your health in the long run.
When in doubt, avoid ordering tilapia and catfish.
Know where your seafood comes from
A good restaurant will place their seafood-sourcing information directly on the menu. But if that's not the case, you should ask.
"I’m someone that always asks where the seafood comes from if the menu doesn't say so explicitly," chef James Briscione said. "I’m not interested in anything that has been imported, especially shrimp, tilapia, and catfish. These are often raised in less than ideal conditions."
SEE ALSO: 7 seafood words everyone should know
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