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Can You Eat a Perch Fish?

Perch fish exists in many different subspecies, the two most common species in the United States being the Yellow Perch and the Surfperch.

The perch genus also exists throughout central and eastern Europe in several different forms, each differing in size, shape and regular diet.

So, with this type of fish being so widespread throughout the world, the question remains: can you eat a perch fish? The answer is yes, absolutely. Many hobbyist fishers list the perch as one of the most delicious and easiest fish to catch on your own. 

Preparation of this fish is often simple, clean and traditional, with the fish fry and simple butter pan fry being some of the most common techniques among fishers online. 

Another element of the perch’s popularity is how satisfying it is to fish for sport. It is a particularly active and feisty freshwater fish, so it puts up a good fight when fishing. It is no surprise then that the fish is so widely renowned among sport fishers.

So, if you want to find out more about if perch fish are edible, then read on! This article will break down the benefits and issues of eating perch, what the most common subspecies of the creature tastes like, and some delicious tips for cooking the Perch fish.

Benefits of Eating Perch Fish

The humble perch has some surprisingly nutritious qualities for such a popular fish.

It is chock full of some fantastic micronutrients that have so many positive effects, propping up heart health, soothing and augmenting your nervous system and helping in energy production throughout your body.

Included in these nutrients is everything from Phosphorus, Vitamin B-12. Vitamin D, Manganese and Selenium. The last of these is an incredible little micronutrient. Selenium is essential in building the body’s internal defenses against cancer and in supporting heart health, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Perch contains over 30% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of each of these different nutrients, making it a superfood rivalling the likes of kale!

Vitamin B-12 is linked to the maintenance of better mental health, and Phosphorus helps manage cell growth, energy creation and cell health. Manganese and Vitamin D both aid massively with immune system functionality, cell growth and maintenance, and bone growth and upkeep.

A serving of Perch also contains 93% of your Recommended Daily Intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids! The health benefits of Omega 3 Fatty acids are widely accepted and discussed, and perch contains a brilliant portion of that.

These fatty acids help shore up brain function, maintains a healthy blood pressure and helps keep the normal operations of your heart.

Issues with Eating Perch Fish

The only issue with eating perch fish is ensuring the quality of the freshwater lakes and rivers they are caught from. Predatory fish like the perch that exist in the freshwater pools and rivers eat a lot. They also eat a lot of animals that eat a lot.

Perch eat riverbed insects and smaller fish. The problem with this is that if there are any contamination issues within the water sources they are native to. This is common among other freshwater fish.

If a perch has a particularly poor diet, it may taste bad. Take this example from a forum post from different fishers online. The poster describes the difference in a yellow perch and a surfperch they have recently caught.

From the discussion in the thread, it is clear to see that the poster was unfortunate enough to have caught a surfperch from an environment that was perhaps not under the best conditions. As such it was “tough as a rebar” and was not at all appetizing.

If you are catching your own fish, make sure to do some research on the areas you are planning on fishing at to ensure there is clean water and optimum positions.

Other posters in the thread talk about their own catches of Surfperch, which were apparently delicious. This would imply that the poster is just unfortunate but is worth bearing in mind for prospective perch eater.

What does Perch Fish Taste Like?

Perch fish in its two most common forms varies slightly differently in taste, texture and mouthfeel. This section will outline how Yellow and Surf Perches taste different.

What does Yellow Perch Taste like?

Raw Yellow Perch has a deep pink flesh, which is translucent and very moist. The fish has next to no fish odor.

When cooked, the lean meat should be white, and nicely flaky when touched with a fork or teeth. It should still maintain some firmness when cooked and will have a mildly sweet taste when cooked correctly.

What does Surfperch Taste like?

Surf Perch is distant cousins to the porgy, sea bass, rockfish, and sea bream. As such, it makes a great substitute in recipes that call for those fish. Like its distant relatives, it is a mild, lightly sweet fish that is incredibly flaky and buttery when cooked correctly.

The texture should be nice and soft, with the fish falling apart to the touch or fork.

As the fish is particularly mild in flavor (although slightly fishier than the yellow perch) it will also take on a lot of flavor from its marinades and the cooking techniques used upon it. .

What’s the best way to cook Perch Fish?

A great method of transforming the humble perch into a glamorous and luxurious dinner is using the following Swiss recipe that would use perch caught fresh from Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva Perch Fillets

  1. Cut your perch into small fillets, pat dry, and then dredge lightly in flour. Shake off any excess.
  2. Preheat a pan with olive oil and butter, melting the fats together in the pan.
  3. When the butter is melted, add the fillets to the pan skin side down.
  4. Sear the perch for two minutes, shaking the pan so the fillets do not stick to the bottom!
  5. Flip the fillets, cooking for a further minute (using a finger press to check if the fish is cooked).
  6. Remove the fillets from the pan and add a small pad of butter into it for the sauce.
  7. Melt the butter, then deglaze the bottom of the pan with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  8. Add the parsley and cook until the sauce has a bit more body.
  9. Pour over the fish and enjoy!