The Atlantic Croaker is found near North and South America. That is the east coast to the nautically minded. This fish croaks like a frog when hooked. Can you eat croaker? Well, it has been eaten by Native Americans for centuries, and archaeological finds to back this up. It remains a firm favorite among hungry sport fisherman to this very day. So, yes, you can eat it.
Do People Eat Croaker?
The good news is that if you’re pregnant, croaker is completely safe to eat. With one of the lowest mercury levels of any fish and lots of Omega-3 and folate, croaker is in fact recommended for pregnant women.
What Does Croaker Look Like?
Young fish have a silvery, iridescent color. Adults are pinkish, while older fish appear brassy with vertical brown streaks that are formed by individual spots on their scales. They have three to five pairs of “whiskers,” or the more proper term, barbels. These assist in gathering food from the seafloor. Croaker is usually 12 inches long, and their weight ranges between 1/2 and 2 pounds. They live for up to eight years.
Where Does It Live?
They are found from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Massachusetts. Go Penguins! Croaker lives in bays and estuaries in the warm months and in deeper water in the fall when it is breeding season. They are also thought to swim in the waters to the east of South America.
How Does It Taste?
Presumably with its mouth. If, on the other hand, you want to have a taste, the following is what you can expect. Croaker is firm and flaky and has a mild taste in the opinion of some, while others regard the fish as lean and flavorsome, and almost sweet. Obviously, this is all subjective and depends upon your taste buds and your cooking methods. Pro tip: Be careful. Bones ahead!
How Is It Prepared?
There is a myriad of means and methods for cooking a good croaker. Because it is a small fish, it is cooked whole. One popular pan-fry recipe, assuming your croaker has already been gutted, and scaled, involves flour, cornmeal, buttermilk, salt, pepper, and flour. Other croaker cooks swear by cooking it in banana leaves. There are a plethora of croaker recipes, so take time to experiment and find your favorite.
Can You Eat It Raw?
In certain polluted areas, there are warnings against eating this fish, or really any fish, and especially raw. So, if you decide to eat croaker raw, make sure that it is from unpolluted water and that the fish is not contaminated. Be sure to check the contamination reports in any area where you choose to fish.
Can Croaker Be Frozen?
Yes, croaker is usually put on ice just after being caught to keep them nice and fresh. When you get home, you can pat the fish dry, clean, and store the croaker. Put it in an airtight plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. There the croaker can lie for up to six months until the day you choose the perfect recipe. Just be aware that most fish will taste the best if you eat them within three months of freezing.
Is It a Healthy Meal?
As stated above, this fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids and folate and is remarkably nutritious. The Omega-3 acids reduce the risks of coronaries and strokes, while folate is great for fetal growth and neural development. Just remember to watch out for the bones.
Fishermen love to catch it and everyone loves to eat it. Croaker is an all-around healthy-to-eat fish that really does croak like a bullfrog.