Why Do Miamians Hate Eating Whole Fish?

Categories: The Critic

fried_hogfish_wisser.jpg
billwisserphoto.com
She's a beaut.
Few things are more enjoyable than eating a whole fish. Cooked on the bone, its flesh stays flavorful and succulent -- a far cry from most dry, overcooked fillets. All a whole fish needs is a bit of lemon. All you need alongside it is a cold beer.

Sure, not everyone agrees with me. Commentators on this week's Fish Fish review showed disdain for head- and tail-on eating, and their preference for fillets has become increasingly evident at Miami restaurants.

See also: Fish Fish: Old-School Fried Goodness in North Miami

At Bocce Bar in midtown, Timon Balloo serves a roasted branzino fillet alongside braised fennel and cipollini onions. Offering the fish whole would deter diners from ordering it, he fears.

"The fish was supposed to be more authentic and served on the bone. But the reality is people say, 'We don't want to see the bone,'" he explains.

lure_whole_fish_wisser.jpg
billwisserphoto.com
Lure Fish Bar's whole daurade
When you order the grilled whole daurade at Lure Fish Bar, the staff issues a disclaimer: The fish is served head- and tail-on. During a recent visit, our server warned us twice. I've encountered similar warnings at many restaurants -- Oishi Thai, Fish Fish, among others.

So why are Miamians so squeamish about eating whole fish?

Cost is a valid concern. On most menus, whole fish are listed at market price. They're certainly pricier than most dishes, but they can usually feed two. Eating around the bones can also prove cumbersome for some. If you eat enough whole fish, though, you can get the hang of it.

fish_oishi_thai_wisser.jpg
billwisserphoto.com
Whole fried fish at Oishi Thai
Maybe it's because cooked whole fish looks too much like its live, swimming counterpart. We've gotten used to thinking of fish as one thing: Neatly-arranged fillets sitting inside a refrigerated display case.

But this is Miami, a city endowed with terrifically fresh hogfish, lion fish, and snapper. It would be a shame not to enjoy our local catches in their purest form -- even if it means battling the occasional bone or two.

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Location Info

Bocce Bar

3252 NE 1st Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Fish Fish

13488 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
41 comments
Dena Marino
Dena Marino

I cannot keep them in the restaurant.. People go wild for them esp for the pompano

Jo Braga
Jo Braga

Cuz it's looking at me!!

Exiliado
Exiliado topcommenter

Sounds like the author has trouble seeing beyond her own nose and those of her closest acquaintances.

Whole fish is not so unpopular here. Like others commented, there's plenty of people from the islands, and we can certainly appreciate whole fish. Actually, it is offered almost everywhere.

Drawing such a conclusion from 5 comments, out of a grand total of 11, doesn't sound much like a valid generalization.



Now, about that last paragraph, it seems like the author always eats at the same restaurant (Fish Fish?). I have not seen lionfish offered anywhere (else), and hogfish is not so easy to find either. 

On the other hand, if you happen to go spearfishing or have friends who do, then you can have plenty of both.  Gotta cook yourself, though.

Gail Bennett
Gail Bennett

Look at the POOR guy! How do you eat something you feel sorry for???????

Riselda Ruiz
Riselda Ruiz

Don't forget Boaters Grill at Bill Baggs Park (el farito). It's one of their specialties....yummy, whole fried snapper. Anthony Bourdain always says the cheeks are the best part of a fish.

FeRn Garcia
FeRn Garcia

I like whole snapper fried with a lemon butter garlic sauce topped right over it. Whole fish is great if done right sometimes all the bones are a pain in the ass though but oh well.

Chicalinda
Chicalinda

Stupid article.......... read the comments and you can see the people of Miam love the whole damn fish!

Javy Pino
Javy Pino

Eating the fish whole is the best way to eat most fish

Camilo Gonzalez
Camilo Gonzalez

Pfft, speak for yourself, i grew up eating the whole fish! My dad eats the eyeballs. #truemiamians!

Louis Wing
Louis Wing

I think alot of people DO, but it's totally unsexy.

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

I AGREE with everyone , WTF? we eat more whole fish than the rest of the country COMBINED. Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Latin Americans, Jamaicans, Haitians, EVERYBODY loves whole fish. Are you talking about Michigan whitebreads? down for the winter? Dude! Please!

Barbara S Manzano
Barbara S Manzano

Not true. The "little big man" at Bangkok Bangkok is among the best as well as the whole fried fish at some of other restaurants mentioned in thread.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...............................one word: IMPATIENCE

someone will try to pass you going through a CAR WASH down here

too much CUBAN coffee makes people rush around like they are nutz so sitting down and disecting a whole fish is simply out of the question here in SoFla

HOMARAS in Mt Kisco featured SMOKED WHOLE TROUT, among many other whole fish and eels, that would take an hour to eat and eventually i got to being able to take out the spine intact and THEY have been in business now for over thirty years that i know of - down here HOMARUS  wouldn't last thirty days = period

Jen Die
Jen Die

I love whole fish...I wouldn't eat fillet for a long time, just started.

Daniel Rafael Reyes
Daniel Rafael Reyes

It's cause "Miamians" are getting dumber with each generation and they can't figure out how to eat the whole fish without getting pricked or stabbed.

Ron E. Chits
Ron E. Chits

In the VI that's how we eat it...waste not want not

George I'doccupyThat Owen
George I'doccupyThat Owen

It's landlocked people that don't eat whole fish. People who grew up near ports or like "ethnic" food are used to it.

Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino

to echo others, you are WAY WAY WAY more likely to encounter a whole fish served in a restaurant in Miami than you are in most of the US! this is the town of the whole red snapper. as a gringo, this article should read "What do gringos have against eating whole fish"?

José Manuel
José Manuel

Americans don't like to think of their food as something that was alive and slaughtered for their enjoyment at one point. I'd say in fact the opposite; Miamians are more likely to eat a whole fish than the rest of the country, but still much less than the rest of the world.

Diana Elena Carioca
Diana Elena Carioca

I DON'T! The best is whole fried Lionfish! Whole fish is the best... the cheeks, eyes, tongue, brain... YUMMMM!!!!

Alejandro Rodriguez
Alejandro Rodriguez

Bahamas fish market, Don Fernandos, La Camaronera, Chef Creole... you cant walk in to any of these restaurants without seeing a whole fish on every other table.

Kyle Awon
Kyle Awon

too big...who likes eating a whole fish anywya ?

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

This is an ignorant post. As the son of Cubans, I remember my dad eating whole snapper when I was a kid. You're writing about gringos at douchey restaurants. Go to any Latin seafood restaurant in Miami and open your eyes.

Ed Ochoa
Ed Ochoa

Way too many fish bones to worry about

George I'doccupyThat Owen
George I'doccupyThat Owen

"Aye que sucia, bro. What kinda ratchet date is this. Pero I don't wanna look at my SALmon."

Manuela Ubago
Manuela Ubago

If you are Latin- this most likely doesn't apply to you. Whole fried fish any day any time!

Alex Pappas
Alex Pappas

theres nothing better than a whole branzino/bronzini grilled for you

guest
guest

I think it's just people that don't enjoy/understand good food, especially seafood. People are squeamish and are looking for fish that tastes and looks like chicken breast. Fish cooked whole has more flavor, doesn't get dried out and has better bits and parts to eat. Whatever, they can hang out at Applebee's--More fresh, delicious fish for us!

Laurel St
Laurel St

I don't want my food to look at me while I'm eating it.

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