There is much talk about the importance of regularly consuming oily fish in a healthy diet, but few species are often named as examples. The popularity of salmon, tuna, bonito or sardines has relegated to a second place others as exquisite as lemon fish, a highly valued fish among great chefs that we can also enjoy at home.
As is customary among seafood, lemon fish are given other names such as Lecha, amberjack, amberjack, cirviola or greenfinch, and in Japanese cuisine we can find it as kanpachi. Sometimes the same names are used for different types of the same family, depending on the area of capture or breeding, which share very similar physical and organoleptic characteristics.
What not to be confused It is this fish with the term ‘milk’, the sperm of fish that is also used in cooking, or with the butterfish species, that deserves a more in-depth analysis in a separate chapter.
What is lemon fish or milk: description and characteristics
The most common lemon fish in our markets and restaurants is the species Seriola dumerili, blue saltwater fish of the caranidae family (Carangidae), gender Serious. His nickname comes from the yellowish line more or less diffuse that crosses its body longitudinally on each of its flanks, more or less marked according to the species, and more defined in the larger adult specimens.
Like most carangies, it is a elongated fish with flattened fusiform body, slightly tapered rounded snout, with the jaw not very marked and eyes not too large, somewhat larger in the buri nippon. Its coloration presents the usual contrast between the bluish tones with gray or brown hues in the upper part, compared to the bright white silver of the lower ventral area.
It has dark fins, with a small pectoral, a very streamlined dorsal that is usually accompanied by low lobes, as well as the anal one. The caudal fin or tail has the typical vee shape, giving you great power and speed. The black mark on the upper part of the eyes is also characteristic.
The largest specimens can easily exceed 170 cm in length and reach a weight of 60 kg or even more, although fish of between one and three kilos.
Habitat, distribution and fishing
The caganid fish usually live in tropical and subtropical areas, avoiding the areas of greatest frost. The lemon fish and its different types are distributed widely in waters around the globe, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and with a great presence in the Atlantic, reaching the British Isles. It is very present in the Mediterranean and is highly appreciated in sport fishing.
It is an animal that usually lives in small groups when it is still young, tending more to a solitary life in adulthood. It does not usually go far from the coast although it can go down to great depths, especially if it feels threatened. Predatory and voracious animal, It feeds on cephalopods, other smaller fish and any other species that it can find in its territory, including crustaceans.
The fishing season varies according to the area, highlighting the end of spring and mid-autumn as two of the best times, also to find wild specimens in fish markets and fishmongers. Today, however, you can buy lemon fish all year, thanks in large part to aquaculture.
Although the commercial cultivation of this species began in Spain as early as the 1980s, efficient production was slow to develop due to various problems associated with reproduction and specific pathologies of the species. Currently the good recent results and the increase in demand place the Lemon fish from aquaculture in Spain as one of the species with the greatest future projection, especially in Andalusia, the Valencian Community and the Canary Islands. It is also bred in other regions of the world such as Japan, from where high quality specimens are exported, or Hawaii.
Properties and benefits
The nutritional characteristics of the lemon fish or milk are similar to those of other blue fish such as tuna or bonito. With an average energy contribution around the 130-140 kcal per 100 g (depending on the piece and the presentation), it offers high quality proteins, a moderate carbohydrate content and, above all, it stands out as a source of unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fatty acids are known as “healthy” since they have beneficial effects on the body, which is also not capable of producing them by itself. Blue fish is one of the best sources of omega-3, whose consumption is associated with better cardiovascular health, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, also thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemon fish is also a good source of essential minerals and vitamins, especially of group B, and with a higher content of fat soluble vitamins than white fish (vitamins A, D and E). The benefits of this fish are therefore comparable to those of salmon but being slightly less caloric and less fat, with a milder flavor that make it better received by consumers of all ages.
How to use lemon fish in the kitchen
A large specimen of milk can be butchered in a way very similar to tuna, as demonstrated by the kitchens of great chefs specialized in dealing with fish of these qualities. its fatty but balanced meat, firm and delicate, and the ease of removing the spines make it perfect for removing various pieces and presentations with a multitude of applications in the kitchen.
– david lopez carreño (@dlcocinero) June 27, 2018
Small or medium-sized specimens can be purchased whole but clean, unopened, to cook on the grill, grilled or baked, for example with salt or even papillote, or simply filling it with lemon, tomato and onion. Whole but open like a book it is also very grateful, roasting it on the back as if it were a sea bass or horse mackerel.
The fillets or loins are also very comfortable to grill, steam or also in the oven, in short and controlled cooking so that it does not go overboard. The thicker cuts, with their firm and white meat, are ideal for batter and fry to the point, or to cook a broth or dry seafood rice that little more is needed if its thorns are used to make the stock.
The belly and flank, as in tuna, are highly appreciated for embers and all kinds of more or less traditional elaborations, admitting classic accompaniments such as tomato sauces or other more exotic ones with Asian, spicy or spicy touches. Lemon fish also take advantage of the liver, excellent as a creamy pâté, and the roe, it also offers salted magnificent.
It is a highly appreciated fish for raw processing and marinades such as cuts of sushi, sashimi or usuzukuri, also Peruvian style tiraditos, ceviches and tartares more or less seasoned.
Grilled lemon fish recipe
A medium-sized, whole lemon fish, about 1200-1500 g, is perfect to cook as if it were a sea bass for a family of three or four people. In our recipe we give the basic indications to do it barbecue, but the same idea can be applied to do it on an electric grill or on the griddle.
You just have to ask the fishmonger to leave us the fish clean of entrails and whole, being able to leave the roe inside if it had them, since they will give more flavor. A side of roasted or fried potatoes or some baked vegetables will be the perfect side dish.
We season the fish inside to taste, spread it lightly with a little extra virgin olive oil and put it in a besuguera or barbecue cage. We place the low grill and grill the fish a few seven or eight minutes on each side, so that the interior cooks well.
The time will depend on the weight and thickness of the piece. Then we put the fish for a minute almost directly on the coals So that the skin has an extra crunch, but watching when the skin begins to brown, so as not to overdo it with cooking or burn it excessively.
If we do it on an electric grill or on the grill, we raise the temperature to the maximum and we mark it by pressing carefully to leave the skin very crisp, always controlling the point so that it does not burn.
Photos | iStock – Diego Delso – Lisa Pinehill – NOAA – サ フ ィ ル – TTSeng
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