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When is sea bass not sea bass?

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Post by natbug Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:17 am

I was told by a local restaurant owner that the fish being touted as sea bass lakeside is actually basa from Vietnam. How does one know if an offering is truly sea bass and not a cheap imitation? Anyone know of a restaurant that serves the real thing?

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Post by ComputerGuy Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:29 am

There is confusion about the term "basa"; it doesn't mean bass. It is generally believed to be a type of catfish, mostly farmed in Vietnam. If you ever get that dusty taste when eating it, you know it's too old.

Tabarka may be the best place to get actual bass, in terms of restaurant. I've never asked for bass at Pacifico, the fish market west of town. Would be interesting to find out.
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Post by slainte39 Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:21 am

HelperGuy wrote:There is confusion about the term "basa"; it doesn't mean bass. It is generally believed to be a type of catfish, mostly farmed in Vietnam. If you ever get that dusty taste when eating it, you know it's too old.

Tabarka may be the best place to get actual bass, in terms of restaurant. I've never asked for bass at Pacifico, the fish market west of town. Would be interesting to find out.

You are absolutely correct Helper Guy, from the most polluted water of the Mekong River delta (but it's cheap)....if you want sea bass, ask for corvina or robalo.

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Post by ComputerGuy Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:24 pm

Corvina is my favorite white fish to buy around here, but I've never heard it referred to as bass. It belongs to a group known as drums and croakers, of which a couple of bass types also belong, but my research shows, not the same as corvina.
"drums and croakers on the market include Atlantic Croaker, Black Drum, Red Drum, Kingfish, Spot, Spotted or Speckled Sea Trout, Weakfish, White Sea Bass, Orangemouth Corvina, Yellowfin Corvina, Golden Corvina, Shortfin Corvina, etc., etc. (Drums and croakers are totally unrelated to either bass or trout, so there is simply no truth in advertising in the fish world.) More of these varieties come from the Pacific, and are more available on the West Coast. "

Don't know much about robalo, but again, research indicates it is related to sea bass, but is not actually sea bass. However, it becomes apparent that (as the quote above suggests), what's in a fish name.
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Post by David Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:00 am

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Post by slainte39 Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:15 am

I was informed by someone older than me years ago (not textbook info), that corvina was white sea bass and robalo was black sea bass.
Lived comfortably with that information for years as I like both fish.
I one thing, I do know for sure is that "basa" is not sea bass, or even close to it.

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Post by Trailrunner Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:32 pm

Next person who goes to Tabarka should ask David. He knows all things fish.
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Post by brigitte Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:24 pm

Basa is catfish from the Mekong Delta. Nothing to do with sea bass.
Robalo and curbina are more like a sea bass

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Post by David Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:29 pm

Robalo is Snook, Corvina is Croaker, neither is bass. Of course "Chilean Sea Bass" is really the ugly Patagonian Toothfish. Apparently, you can call any fish in the ocean that you don't recognise "Sea Bass." No one would know. Can't pull that with Marlin or Tuna though. Enjoy your "sea bass."
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Post by brigitte Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:27 pm

I think the lubina is the closest to what we call bar in France and what we translate as bass but for my cooking corvina and robalo will do...

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Post by CheenaGringo Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:15 pm

No wonder I have such a limited list of fish that I will eat! At least with the ones that I know I like, the names aren't tossed around as generics.

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Post by ferret Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:03 pm

Hope Red Snapper (Huachinango) is on that list. It's our fish of choice.
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Post by ComputerGuy Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:26 am

Spent years on both coasts of Canada, and on The Great Lakes, and bass never tasted as mild as the corvina I buy here.
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Post by Trailrunner Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:10 am

So, where do you buy corvina and robalo here? Pacifico? Frozen or fresh?
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Post by brigitte Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:35 am

They do not always have the same fish so do not expect to go there and find robalo or corvina every time. This week end they had luvina, parrot fish, cat fish , huachinango which they almost always have and a bunch of filets of various fish(did not ask wha they were) ceviche, frozen scallops and lots of frozen shellfish.
They have a nice variety so go there and see what they have, you pass the place every time you go to the organic market, if you go.

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Post by ComputerGuy Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:50 am

Yes, Pacifico... Corvina seems to be on variety that's always available, although not always as large as I like (the bigger the fish, the thicker the filets, and the better the cooking... one problem with many fish dishes at Mexican restaurants, to me, is these tiny, thin filets... they don't get a chance to cook properly before they're done). The corvina is always on ice, and not frozen, but I have no idea if it's been thawed or is simply delivered on ice.
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Post by RoofBob Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:58 am

You can usually find fresh corvina and robalo at Pacifico. We always call before going as the counter lady speaks English and we can also check to see if they have fresh tuna. Their phone number is: 766-2203
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Post by seisdedos Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:00 am

Cabrilla and mero.
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Post by brigitte Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:02 am

Isn t mero grouper? what is cabrilla, I am not familiar with it, I do not remember the Pacifico fishmonger having any. What does it look like?

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Post by brigitte Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:09 am

Ok I googled it and saw a picture,, it is sea bass . Does it have another name here? I buy fish several time a week as we live a couple of blocks from Pacifico. I ask the fish monger what the names of the fish are every time I see one I do not recognize and I do not remember him ever saying cabrilla, mero yes but no cabrilla.
Isn t grouper part of the sea bass family?
I have given up on the English as it is easier to ask for the Spanish name, ask how to prepare it and go from there.

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Post by slainte39 Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:53 am

Corvina and robalo might be snookers and crooks in English, but most Mexicans that speak English think that they are sea bass in that language.
So what is a real sea bass in Spanish? (if such a thing exists)...cabrilla?... Yo no sé.
Corvina and robalo works fine for me...maybe I don't want to know what a real sea bass is.
One thing for sure...it ain't basa.

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Post by Zedinmexico Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:07 pm

Antarctic Toothfish, Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish are the names
of the fish called Chilean SeaBass. Names from Monterrey Bay Aquarium
information. Fish is listed as should not purchase for a variety of reasons.
Interesting Website. Not sure what I should think about all this info.

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Post by Trailrunner Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:38 pm

Wow, this has been an enlightening thread for me. Thanks for all your good input.

I grew up in Hawaii and all my favorite fish were called Opakapaka, Ahi, Aku, Ono, Ulua, Mullet, and of course Mahi. A fish eater's paradise! After I left the islands I lived primarily on the west coast and was, of course, frustrated and never able to find or identify the fish I grew up with but was satisfied with colder Pacific Ocean fish like FRESH Halibut, Salmon, Dungeness crab, Abalone and frozen Shrimp, Sole, and Snapper.

Now, back in the land of fresh warm Pacific Ocean fish I'm at a loss as to what to buy from the fishmongers. You guys made me do a search and I've found some really great info:
http://gohawaii.about.com/od/recipes/a/hawaiian_seafood.htm (click on a fish and see pic and chart on the left)
and
http://www.jsor.org/shortfishlist.pdf

So! Any one of you great and knowledgeable fresh fish foodies know how to ask the fishmonger at Pacifico for:
Wahoo
Mullet
Pink Snapper
Yellow Fin Tuna
Sea Bass/Grouper (I think you're right with corvina and robalo)
Halibut (can we get it here?)

BTW, the Mahi we eat here isn't even close to the Mahi in Hawaii. Completely different fish. Hawaiian Mahi is from the (non mammal) Dolphin family. This here is good, but it ain't the same.

Anybody seen Mullet? When I was a kid my father used to steam it whole Chinese style, then when done pour very hot peanut oil over it to crispen up the skin, toss thinly sliced green onions all over the top, put it in the center of the table, and we'd pick at it with chop sticks. Awesome! Until he set the kitchen on fire with the peanut oil and we never had it again.


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Post by seisdedos Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:59 pm

Mullet is called lisa. They are good eating but too bony for many people. Used for live bait a lot.


I'm pretty sure the mahi-mahi (dorado) here is the same as you had in Hawaii. It is dolphinfish and caught all over the world.


Wahoo is wahoo but I doubt you'll find it commercially available. It is a mackeral and you can find sierra here and in many's opinion makes the very best ceviche.


Yellow fin tuna is atun aleta amarilla and can be easily obtained.
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Post by viajero Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:51 pm

Halibut-lenguado?

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