WHAT IS WHITEFISH?
Whitefish has become a generic name for a number of different, similar fish. They can be caught in either fresh or saltwater. What they do have in common are their taste profiles. They’re all mild flavored, somewhat sweet, inexpensive and easy to fry up or throw in a soup. Usually these fish tend to be either bass, cod, grouper, haddock, halibut or pollock. In general they prefer colder waters, live near or on the sea or lake bed, and are less oily in nature. There is also an “authentic” whitefish only found in the northern lakes of North America. The most valuable of the bunch, the Coregonus clupeaformis is a silvery, small mouthed salmon relative who prefers deep, fresh water lakes.
WHERE DO WHITEFISH COME FROM?
Because they comprise at least half a dozen different varieties, they can be from pretty much anywhere! In terms of the lake whitefish, they started colonizing lakes in Canada and the northern U.S. about 12,000 years ago (after the last glaciation a.k.a. ice age). What’s interesting is that even though these bottom feeders continued to evolve separately in various lakes, they all followed one of 2 paths. They either became a dwarf or normal sized fish. This example of parallel evolution is not unusual, and in this case broke down into the food type most prevalent in that lake.
WHEN IS WHITEFISH IN SEASON?
They’re in season from Wuinter through early Fall. The imitation whitefish tend to spawn in the winter, while the actual lake whitefish spawn about a month or so earlier.
IS MY IMITATION CRABMEAT REALLY CRAB?
No, it’s actually whitefish more often then not! Also known as the hot dog of the sea, one of the only things it doesn’t contain is crab. A variety of different fish are used. They’re deboned, cleaned and their flesh is minced into a paste. Food coloring is then added made from caramel, paprika or annatto.
ARE WHITEFISH HEALTHY TO EAT?
This generic family of fish by itself is low in saturated fats and a good source of lean protein. However the way that it’s often cooked (fried) minimizes these health benefits.