WHAT IS TILEFISH?
Nicknamed the “clown of the sea” or the “Golden Snapper”, despite its tropical appearance the tilefish can be found as far north as Nova Scotia! Able to grow up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length, the larger the size the firmer the texture. With a diet that consists mostly of crustaceans, their sweet flavor is often compared to lobster. They are a popular ingredient in sushi
WHERE DO TILEFISH COME FROM?
This fish has evolved to have very specific biological requirements in particular regarding water temperature. At the same time they live in a narrow strip of warm water that parallels the East Coast.
WHEN ARE TILEFISH IN SEASON?
They spawn in the northern hemisphere from April to October after 4 years of age. The legal fishing season is May through October. However over the last 50 years as the average size of females decreases, there has been a proportionate decrease in fecundity as well.
DID TILEFISH DIE OFF SHORTLY AFTER BEING DISCOVERED?
In 1879 tile fish were discovered off the coast of Nantucket Island in North America. However despite being prosperous, 3 years later after a severe storm over 20 million fish were found dead. The storm had caused a large amount of cold water to mix into the traditionally warmer Gulf Stream. It took over a decade for the fish population to get back to normal.
ARE TILEFISH HEALTHY TO EAT?
So normally this is a very straightforward yes or no answer. However in the case of this North American East Coast native, where the fish is caught has a huge impact. Atlantic ocean ones are safe to eat, but tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico have the highest mercury levels out of all fish tested by the FDA. Otherwise they are lean in fat and if low in mercury an excellent meal choice.