Edible Ocean Fish

Most of the fish sold in the market come from the sea, called saltwater fish. While there are hundreds of saltwater fish species, not all are good to eat, so it is essential to know which ones are edible and which are not.

Below are some of the best tasting and nutritious sea fish I recommend you try throughout the years, including fish.

What sea fish can you eat? It is safe to eat Alaskan salmon, cod, swordfish, orange roughy, herring, mahi-mahi, mackerel, perch, rainbow trout, sardines, Chilean sea bass, tuna, wild Alaskan pollock, Arctic char, and eel. But make sure to consume only the recommended amount.

Saltwater Fish That You Can Eat

Alaskan Salmon

The Alaskan salmon is one of the best-tasting saltwater fish that you can find. It is considered a fatty fish because its body mass contains 5% more fat than its weight, and it is ideal for dry-heat cooking techniques like grilling and sauteing.

Like any other fatty saltwater fish, the fat content of the Alaskan salmon varies. But generally, farmed fish contain higher fat content than those caught in the wild.

Meanwhile, farmed salmon is a cheaper option. It might be fattier than wild-caught salmon, but it could also contain fewer omega-3s, minerals, and vitamins.

Overall, salmon is a tasty option for a healthy diet. Aim for wild-caught variety if your budget is flexible. You can try grilled salmon with sweet-tangy glaze among the best salmon dishes. It is easy to prepare and is mouthwatering.


Another sea fish you can eat is cod. Unlike salmon, cod is considered lean, which means it contains less than 5% fat by weight. All lean fish are ideal for cooking using wet techniques like poaching, steaming, and rich, creamy sauces.

Cod is characterized as a flaky white fish having a good amount of niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B-12. A 3-ounce cooked cod is packed with 15 to 20 grams of healthy protein.

This saltwater fish has a very mild and milky taste. Atlantic cod, for example, is a little softer and sweeter than the Pacific cod, which is savory and firm.

You would like to add flavor to this saltwater fish using spices, herbs, and citrus as it tastes mild. Texture-wise, the cod is flaky, nice, and firm enough to be cooked well with boiling and baking. It also cooks in under 15 minutes, and to test when it’s done, use a fork and see if it flakes in one touch.


Another lean saltwater fish you can eat is the swordfish. The distinct feature of this fish is its sword-like bills, sticking out from its upper jaws that it utilizes to slash its prey.

Swordfish are enormous, having an average weight of 50 to 200 pounds. It also has meaty, dense, nearly boneless flesh that is either pink or white.

If you want a fresh-tasting swordfish, try to catch it from August to October, as these months are the ideal time to catch them. It will also taste delicious when pan-roasted using compound butter.

Like cod, swordfish has a mild and a little sweet taste. It provides a moist texture that is usually compared to beef steak. Also, you can tell that it is cooked when its pink or white meat turns beige.

Orange Roughy

This saltwater fish is another lean fish on the list. It features a white, moist flesh that becomes flaky in texture and mild sweetness when cooked.

Orange Roughy is found in Australia and New Zealand and belongs to the slimehead family. It is also slow to mature and can live for over a hundred years.

This saltwater fish features a delicate, mild, slightly sweet flavor similar to pollock or tilapia when properly cooked. Some people also compare its taste and white flesh to a lobster called “poor man’s lobster.”

In addition, it has a moderate oil content, allowing it not to overcook easily. When buying orange roughy, choose the one with whiter meat to avoid low-quality ingredients.


You might have tasted herring before, and it is one of the best sea fish you can eat. So this fatty fish is quite similar to sardines, and many usually confuse the two with each other.

For instance, the two have a similar distinct flavor when eaten fresh. Herring also has oily meat, flaking off in moist chunks like sardines.

The fatty, rich meat of herring makes it satisfying and coats the palate. One way to get the best out of this saltwater fish is to smoke it. This technique will give a pleasant salty taste to the fish meat, and consume it in moderation as it contains high sodium.


Mahi-mahi is another saltwater fish that might satisfy your palate. This fish thrives in both subtropical and tropical glasses of water, usually in water above 68℉.

They live year-round in tropical areas while seasonal in more temperate water. Anglers can also easily spot mahi-mahi when the water is warm.

One of the best things about cooking mahi-mahi is that it can bear any preparation. It has a sweet, distinct, moderately mild taste and a firm texture.

If you had swordfish before, you would know what mahi-mahi tastes like as the two almost taste similar. Although, the latter has a milder taste and has large, moist flakes.

Another thing about this saltwater fish is its strong taste profile compared to other fish species like cod. You should also remove its skin before cooking as those are thick.


If you want to try another fatty sea fish, mackerel is ideal. Compared to leaner white fish, this saltwater fish has high healthy fats. In addition, it has a strong flavor and exceptionally fatty meat. Its texture and flavor are similar to salmon, incredibly when fresh.

One of the easiest ways to taste mackerel is to buy a canned mackerel in a grocery store. It gives a good amount of protein, and even the tiny bones are soft enough to eat.

Mackerel is also good when paired with acidic sauces, including capers, tomatoes, or citrus fruits. It is also a great pair of curry and teriyaki. This saltwater fish is also great to steam, bake, broil, pan-sear, or dish with only a tiny amount of salt, pepper, and oil with its flavor.


Perch is another white fish you can eat. While it is a saltwater fish, it can also be found in freshwaters. It features a medium texture, and because of that, you can pair it well with panko breading. It has a sweet taste, and its flesh is firm and crumby, having a flavor similar to walleye but more appealing.

A cooked perch fish provides a pleasant mouthfeel that you can’t compare with other fish. Its tender flakes break down delicately upon every bite.

If you’ve never had a perch before, this experience will surprise you. This fish also goes well with most recipes that you can cook without notable changes in the flavor.

Rainbow Trout

The mat of rainbow trout has a mild, delicate, and nutty taste. It is also tender, soft, and flaky, available in orange, white, or pink. If you want a safer option for this saltwater fish, opt for the farmed variety as it is raised while protected from contaminants.

You can tell that rainbow trout is well cooked when the color pales and has a delicate flake. When shopping for this sea fish, look for firm, resilient fillets that look fresh.

Its skin should also appear shiny, dark, and feel slippery. It is also best to avoid frozen rainbow trout with gray flesh and look dried out.

The fillets have to be firm, resilient, and fresh. The skin of the rainbow trout should be dark, shiny, and have a slippery feel. Avoid frozen fish that looks dried out or has gray flesh.


Another fatty fish on the list of sea fish you can eat is sardines. It is loaded with many vitamins and is easy to find since it is available in a canned version.

This fish is very nutritious because you can eat its bones and skin and its meat. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin B-12, protein, etc.

Chilean Sea Bass

Also known as Patagonian Toothfish, Chilean Sea Bass is another fatty fish with a firm, white flesh. Despite its name, this saltwater fish is not a part of the brass family.

It is a species of notothen living in cold waters between 45 and 3,850 meters in the southern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. It can also be found on continental shelves around Subantarctic islands and seamounts in the Southern Ocean.

If you want to taste the best Chilean Sea Bass, try pan-seared to achieve crispy skin. It is also best served with spinach, peas, asparagus, or bok choy.


Tuna would never miss the list of the top sea fish you can eat. Most people love to eat canned or fresh tuna. When buying tuna, choose the fresh one with glossy skin and an ocean-fresh smell. It is also easy to cook and is suitable for a quick sear over high heat.

Wild Alaskan Pollock

In the northern area of the Pacific Ocean, Alaskan Pollock is always wild-caught. Its light texture and mild taste make it often used for battered fish products and fish sticks. It also has white flesh and low oil content, perfect for those who don’t prefer fatty fish.

Arctic Char

This saltwater fish belongs to the salmon family. It looks and tastes a little similar to salmon but slightly more like trout. Its meat is also firm, has fine flakes, and is high in fat. You can also see Arctic Char with dark red to pale pink flesh colors.


Eel might be a strange-looking fish, but many love it because of its delicious taste. They live in shallow waters, settle at the bottom part of the ocean, or hide in eel pits holes.

Many countries, including Japan, love eel, especially the freshwater variety unagi. The country is said to consume about 70% of the world’s eel stock, which placed the said saltwater fish on the red list of fish species at risk of extinction.

Insight On Eating Saltwater Fish

Generally, fish is a healthy option for acquiring the beneficial protein needed by the body. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats the body can’t produce independently.

This substance has a vital role to play in heart and brain health. It also helps reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation and assists in prenatal development in babies.

The American Heart Association or AHA says that including fish in your diet at least twice weekly, particularly fatty fish, can help you acquire omega-3s. Fatty fish like lake trout, salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines are your best options.

Consuming fish at a recommended amount can help you reap benefits, but some risks are also associated with consuming it regularly.

Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs and mercury are contaminants that might get into ocean, ground, and lake water from industrial waste and homes. These contaminants will somehow get their way into fish that live in those water bodies.

The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA issued combined guidelines about fish consumption for women of childbearing age, breastfeeding women, pregnant, and children.

According to the guidelines, these groups should avoid eating fish that might contain high levels of mercury contamination, such as:

  • King mackerel
  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish

Fish You Should Avoid

As mentioned earlier, some fish species might contain mercury and other contaminants that can harm the body. Mercury is a toxic metal contaminant that can be a source of genetic abnormalities or damage to kidneys or the brain.

However, these contaminants are not the only reason you avoid particular saltwater fish species. Some of them are endangered due to overfishing and low population.

Below are some of the fish you should not eat:


This fish is one of those strange-looking fish that looks like catfish because of its whiskers. It lives at the bottom sea and has a fresh, light flavor, making it a staple for gourmets. However, the demand for this fish is so high that its depleted population is still recovering.

Bluefin Tuna

Another sea fish you should avoid eating is bluefin tuna. In December 2009, it was included in the World Wildlife Fund’s “10 for 2010” threatened species. The list also includes tigers, giant pandas, and leatherback turtles.

Yet, despite the warning of EDF that this saltwater fish has high levels of PCBs and mercury, the bluefin tuna continues to command around $177,000 a fish.

These fish are only two of those that you should avoid eating. Instead, eat saltwater fish from a sustainable source and turn down varieties at risk of extinction.

How To Buy The Best Sea Fish

Eating fish doesn’t initially cause harmful effects on the environment. But because of high demands and overfishing, there is an increasing risk of extinction for different fish species.

It is vital to know which varieties of fish are suitable to eat according to their season. Make sure to plan your meals according to their availability to ensure that you’re not contributing to the practice of overfishing.

Choose a fish with bright red gills and not sunken eyes in terms of freshness. These characteristics indicate that the fish is still fresh. It is also ideal that the fish smell fresh and not too fishy, indicating bacteria.

Also, look for whole shiny fish and taut, not wrinkly and dull ones.

The Right Way To Prepare Fish

Before cooking the fish, rinse it using cold water to remove any bacteria on the surface once you get home. Next, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to blot the fish dry, then use plastic or wax paper to wrap the fish. This technique will minimize the fish’s oxygen exposure.

Refrigerate the plastic-wrapped fish over chopped ice if you plan to eat the fish the next day. Fish is also quite challenging to cook as it easily tastes dry when overcooked. So, follow the fitting cooking instructions on a particular fish as they quickly become cooked compared to other proteins.


Eating various fish several times weekly can help you acquire many essential nutrients. But, people who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or those with a health condition should ask their doctor first before adding any saltwater fish to their diet.