Are croaker good to eat? These diminutive fish are often caught by anglers by mistake as they steal bait when targeting other species.
The Atlantic croaker, small yellow croaker, white croaker, and all other croaker species belong to the Sciaenidae or drum family. The croaker fish got their name because of the croaking sounds the males make to attract the females. They also have a distinct sound as they’re pulled from the water.
We’ll address the frequently asked questions pertaining to the croaker fish, such as if croaker are good to eat, are they safe to consume, and what’s the best yellowfin croaker recipe. Let’s get started!
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Are Croaker Good to Eat?
Yes! Croaker meat is delicious. As a matter of fact, consumption of croaker was high among Native Americans and it goes all the way back to centuries ago with archeological findings to back up the claim.
Although not targeted intentionally by anglers, those who keep the fish caught accidentally say they like the lean, sweet taste of croaker meat.
Yellow croaker taste isn’t too fishy, unlike the bigger species. The only issue is the skin which is thin, delicate and has the tendency to stick to grilling pans.
Are Croaker Fish Safe to Consume?
Although they are safe, it’s recommended to make certain of the source of the fish. Croaker sometimes congregate around sewer outfalls.
When they do, they accumulate toxins that make it unsafe to consume for humans and pets. If you know how to catch croaker and you’re aware of the toxicity levels of the body of water you’re fishing in, then they’re safe for human and pet consumption.
How to Cook Croaker Fish
Now, we know you’re curious about what you can do with the fish.
Here are the things you will need for the different ways to enjoy croaker fish:
- Croaker fish
- Flour or cornmeal
- Paper towel
- Black pepper
- Cast iron pan
- Vegetable oil
- Lemon juice
- Meat thermometer
- Baking pan
- Freshly chopped herbs
- Aluminum foil
To deep or pan-fry croaker fish, follow these quick and simple steps:
- Rinse a freshly gutted, beheaded, and scaled croaker fish.
- Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Drizzle some lemon juice (optional).
- Mix 1 cup cornmeal or all-purpose flour (depending on what you have) with 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp salt in a mixing bowl.
- Place the fish in the bowl one at a time to coat with your flour mixture. If you’ll use 2 lbs. or more, adjust the amount of cornmeal or flour.
- Heat up ½ cup vegetable oil on a skillet or cast iron pan over medium to high heat.
- Add the fish to the pan and make sure you don’t overcrowd them. It’s best to do this in smaller amounts, especially if you won’t be able to fit all of them in your pan.
- Cook the fish for 3 to 5 minutes or until each one turns brown on all sides.
- Using a meat thermometer, check the meat’s internal temperature. Avoid undercooked or overcooked fish. According to the US Dietary Guidelines, fish should be cooked to 145°F.
- Remove the fish from your pan then place it on a clean plate. To drain excess oil, place paper towels on your plate.
- Lastly, sprinkle the fish with freshly chopped herbs and a bit of lemon juice.
Baked Croaker Fish
This is another simple way to know for sure the answer to are croaker good to eat. It’s also healthier compared to deep frying croaker fish.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and coat your baking pan with aluminum foil.
- Rinse your gutted, beheaded, and scaled croaker, then pat dry using a paper towel.
- Rub 1 tbsp vegetable oil or any oil and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice on both sides of each croaker fish. Season generously with some salt to taste. Add fresh herbs, black pepper, and minced garlic, if you’d like, to the oil and lemon mixture.
- Place the fish carefully into the baking pan. It’s important to bake the fish undisturbed for 10 to 20 minutes (or until your fish is flakey and translucent). You can use a fork to check the readiness of your meat or a meat thermometer if you want to be more precise. This is to ensure your meat isn’t undercooked or overcooked. Similar to pan-frying croaker fish, the internal temperature of baked croaker should be 145°F.
Broiled Croaker Fish
If you prefer using a broiler, follow these steps to cook croaker fish:
- Preheat the broiler with the rack 4” from the heat source. Don’t forget to oil the baking dish.
- After cleaning the croaker fish, brush with vegetable oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle herbs and spices to taste.
- Broil the fish for 4 to 8 minutes. If the croaker is 2 inches thick, make sure you turn over the fish after 4 minutes then cook for another 5 minutes or until it’s done. Make sure you check for readiness. The internal temperature must be around 145°F.
- Plate your fish and sprinkle some more herbs and species. Serve immediately.
Are croaker good to eat? Most definitely! Although not the healthiest fish to eat, croaker are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins D and B2.
Adding croaker fish and other types of seafood to your diet is advisable as they help strengthen the teeth and bones of children and adults alike.
The omega-3 fatty acids in croaker also help lower risks of acquiring coronary heart disease in adults and are important for the neurological development and growth of children.
If you want to catch the fish, remember that they are bottom feeders. They prey on mollusks, small fish, crustaceans, and bristle worms. Just make sure your catch is clean and it’s ready to be grilled, baked, and/or broiled!