Is Perch Fish Good to Eat? What’s the Best Way to Cook It?

Fish is a fantastic main dish to center any meal around. It’s generally high in nutrients, fatty acids, and vitamins, as well as low in fat and calories. Thus, not only is it healthy, but it’s delicious. 

Plus, there are so many different kinds of fish to try, you’re not likely to get bored with this food group. One such underrated option is the perch fish. 

Perch is a fantastic fish to eat. White and flaky, it’s cooked a number of different ways, the most popular being to fry it. You can also sauté it for a healthier option.

Eating perch fish is a great way to switch up your usual dinners. Here’s everything you should know before purchasing it.

Is Perch a Good Fish to Eat?

First things first: if you like flaky whitefish, you’ll enjoy perch. But what actually is a perch fish?

Many fish are referred to as perch, but to properly be a perch fish, a fish must belong to the family Percidae and reside in freshwater. The perch we’ll be referring to in this article is the yellow perch (P. flavescens), which is primarily found in North America. 

Other examples of North American perch are walleyes and saugers. Both of these can also be prepared in all the ways this article discusses.

This perch is also often farmed, which is becoming an increasingly sustainable and clean option for sourcing fish. 

Thus, perch fish is good to eat in terms of both flavor and sustainability. 

These days, a lot of popular fish are marked red in terms of overfishing. This includes halibut, bluefin tuna, black sea bass, most salmon, sturgeon, and prawns. Something that makes perch fish especially good to eat is that it’s not in danger of being overfished, and is sustainably managed under U.S. regulations. 

Perch is a freshwater fish, so they can be found in ponds, rivers, lakes, and marshlands if you’re looking to catch one yourself. It’s best to catch them using a lure, as they can be a bit difficult and put up a fight. If you catch one perch, there’s likely more nearby. 

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The best bait for perch are worms, crayfish, larvae, and minnows. They’re carnivores, so these are the types of things they snack on in their own habitats. 

Perch are most easily found for fishing in the fall, usually morning to late afternoon. 

Perch are a good fish to eat because they’re accessible, sustainable, and very tasty. So, what do perch fish taste like?

How does Perch Taste?

The flavor of perch fish is mild, as is the case for most whitefish. You won’t find yourself confronted with an overly fishy flavor. If this is something you enjoy, maybe opt for tuna or mackerel. 

The texture of perch is slightly crumbly, so it can be a good replacement for something more overfished, like cod, halibut, or sea bass. This crumbly texture also makes it excellent for fish fries, because the flaky bits pair nicely with breading. 

Overall, perch is lean and light, making it a healthy and not-too-filling dinner option. 

Is Perch Fish Good for You?

Perch fish contains a wealth of nutrients and is free of unhealthy fats and other food components that may be bad for you. 

One serving of perch contains about 30% of your daily recommended Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D, as well as elements like Phosphorus, Manganese, and Selenium. When it comes to fish, perch is actually a superfood. 

One fillet of perch fish usually contains about 54 calories. The fillets are small, but you don’t have to worry about caloric overload, even if you boost your intake to something like four fillets. If you eat perch, you can fill up without worrying about weight gain. 

They’re a great option for someone who wants to lose or maintain weight but doesn’t have time to exercise as much as they’d like. They’re definitely a diet-friendly fish, with lots of benefits. 

What are the Benefits and Downsides of Eating Perch?

Benefits

Perch offers some major benefits in all those vitamins and healthy chemical elements. 

For example, vitamin B-12 is said to help improve mental health. Phosphorus, Vitamin D, and Manganese are all useful in upping cell growth. They also strengthen the immune system. 

Perch can also help ensure heart health. The Selenium it contains has been linked to preventing heart attacks and strokes. 

Like most fish, Perch is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. One perch serving will provide the majority of Omega 3 that most doctors recommend for a daily dose. 

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Downsides

The downsides of eating perch are very few, unless you’re someone who just doesn’t like fish. If that’s the case, we suggest still giving it a try. Its mild flavor and firm texture may make it the exception for you. 

The only potential downside to consider is consuming perch fished from polluted waters. Perch fish consume a lot of smaller fish and insects, so they may be both consuming and existing in pollutants. 

Commercial yellow perch harvest has been banned unless the fish comes from Lake Michigan or Lake Erie. You shouldn’t have to worry if you’re buying wild-caught perch, but if you’re catching it yourself, maybe consider testing the pH of the water with a kit like this 16-in-1 Water Test Kit. 

Fish caught in polluted waters can have a negatively impacted taste. It’s probably safer to opt for farm-raised perch, especially if they were raised in an aquaculture environment – the future of sustainably farmed fish. 

What is the Best Way to Cook and Eat Perch?

Perch can be consumed in a number of different ways. It’s most popularly fried, but in an effort to keep things healthy and unique, we’ll be discussing a delicious grilled perch recipe. 

Grilled Perch with Peach Salsa

The mild, flaky flavor of the perch fish pairs beautifully with the bright, soft texture and slight spice of peach salsa. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed or kept for extra spice, chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large peach, cubed
  • 1 grapefruit (optional, chopped with skin removed
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1 lb perch, cut into four fillets
  • Tortilla chips to pair (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste 

Steps

Peach Salsa

  1. Dice/chop your cilantro, garlic, red onion, jalapeno, peach, and grapefruit according to the ingredients list.
  2. Add all of these fruits and vegetables to a large bowl.
  3. Squeeze the juice of two limes on top of your fruit and vegetable mixture, along with a drizzle of olive oil to create a dressing. 
  4. Add your tomatillo salsa. 
  5. Add salt and pepper as needed. 
  6. Right before serving, add ¾ of your chopped cilantro for a fresh flavor. 

Perch

  1. Heat a large, flat pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Consider using a cast-iron skillet for a charred flavor. 
  2. Add olive oil to your pan, and each fillet of perch.
  3. While the pan and oil are heating, generously season your perch with salt and pepper. 
  4. Remove the perch’s skin, and cook the fish on each side for 3-4 minutes.
  5. When the fish becomes white and begins to flake, it should be fully cooked.
  6. Remove from heat and plate. To serve, add the fish on top of a pile of peach salsa. Top with fresh chopped cilantro and a few tortilla chips for scooping. 
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Tips

  • If you want an even more charred flavor, consider grilling your perch.
  • Don’t forget to oil your grill or pan – otherwise, your fish will end up sticking to the grates or pan surface. Consider a non-stick pan to be safe. 
  • If you don’t like peaches, feel free to replace them with citrus, or simply use any kind of salsa you want. 
  • Don’t overcook your perch, or else it will become dry and slightly tough. Cooked, non-sushi-grade ish is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, so consider taking the temperature rather than overcooking. 
  • Add your cilantro right as you serve, so it doesn’t wilt and lose freshness.
  • If you don’t like cilantro, replace it with parsley. 
  • You’re welcome to cook perch with the skin on. It’s totally up to your preference!

Related Questions

Does perch have a strong taste?

Compared to fish like tuna, perch does not have a strong taste. It has a mild, sweet flavor and is not very fishy. Because of this mild flavor, it can pair with almost anything. 

It’s not very tangy, so it can go well with buttery recipes. However, it’s mild enough to go with spicy recipes as well. 

Which is better, cod or perch?

Healthwise, cod has lower cholesterol and calories than perch, but perch has more minerals, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. 

Overall, we’d argue that perch is better because it isn’t severely overfished like cod is. Perch is a great cod replacement, with enough vitamins and minerals to make up for the very slight health difference. 

Does perch have a lot of bones?

Perch does not have a lot of bones that are difficult and inconvenient to remove. If you buy perch from the store, it will likely be deboned. If you catch it yourself, however, it has a really simple bone structure that can be removed almost all at once. 

Also, read a related post: Chutney vs Salsa

Summary

Perch is a mild-tasting, sustainable, and versatile fish that makes it a great dinner or lunch option. 

It’s so versatile that we’d guess almost anyone could find a way to enjoy it. 

Perch fish is great to eat, great to fish, and great for your health.