Should You Be Eating Perch?

Published Categorized as Fish Or Seafood, Guide, Recipes

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Perch fish are a variety of freshwater fish with many different subspecies such as silver perch, white perch, yellow perch or walleye being found all over the world. Many different subspecies are common across America, Asia and Europe, this includes walleye that are often found in North America. The plentiful existence and feisty nature of these fish make them a popular target for fishing enthusiasts. Many will catch, cook and eat perch. However, this begs the question, should you be eating perch? 

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Is Perch Good To Eat?

Perch is great to eat, especially so if you enjoy white fish. Unlike say something like salmon which has deep pink flesh, perch like sea bass, boasts white flesh. 

Additionally, perch fillets are typically very thin and delicate. This along with their soft and edible skin makes a great fish to eat, especially when after something lighter.

How Does Perch Fish Taste?

This fish tastes good. Perch has an excellent mildly sweet taste with a firm crumbly texture. Its taste is somewhat similar to, yet more delicate than that of sea bass, sea bream and rock bass. As such, perch, specifically, the white perch fillets of surfperch can make an excellent substitute for these fish in a pinch.

Does Yellow Perch Taste The Same As Surf Perch?

When raw, unlike other perch, yellow perch will have a deep pink colour similar to that of salmon. This flesh will be very moist and somewhat translucent, yet have next to no odour of fish.

When cooked, however, the flesh will be white, just like that of surfperch. Additionally, like surfperch, cooked yellow perch fillets will be lean meat with a slightly sweet taste with a somewhat firm exterior. However, it is the more flaky variety of perch. 

Should You Be Eating Perch?

Benefits of Eating Perch Fish

Despite being a popularly eaten and common species of fish, perch is incredibly rich in various beneficial nutrients. The benefits of which can improve the quality of your immune system, be beneficial to your heart and help energy production within your body.

An average serving of perch contains roughly thirty percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B-12, Phosphorus, Vitamin D, Manganese and Selenium, along with many more. As such it can be argued that perch is potentially a superfood on the level of something like kale (check out what kale tastes like and its nutrition value).

However, you may be wondering, what these different nutrients and micronutrients actually do to benefit your body. Below are the benefits each one conveys:

  • Consumption of Vitamin B-12 has been linked to a higher quality of mental health.
  • Phosphorus helps with managing cell growth, cell health and energy generation.
  • Vitamin D and Manganese are both instrumental for cell and growth and maintenance. Additionally, they massively strengthen the immune system.
  • Selenium supports heart health and helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, it is a crucial component in the body’s defence against cancer.

In addition, to all these benefits, perch is also incredibly abundant in Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, a single serving of perch contains approximately ninety-three percent of the body’s recommended daily intake of these Omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids’ benefits are widely known and accepted. These include maintaining healthy blood pressure, keeping your heart healthy and assisting brain functionality.

Issues with Eating Perch Fish

The only real caveat to consider when you eat perch is that when catching wild perch, you should be conscious of the conditions of water it was caught from. The reason for this is that whilst perch is a freshwater fish it is also a predatory one. As such it eats a lot of smaller fish and lakebed insects. 

The issue here is that in a body of water that has been contaminated. in some way. This will be reflected in the quality of the perch as the fish taste can greatly change depending on what it has been eating. Perch fish caught in these unfavourable environments will therefore likely taste unpleasant along with being incredibly tough.  

Should You Be Eating Perch_alices kitchen

What’s the best way to cook Perch Fish?

A popular method to cook and prepare perch is to follow the Lake Geneva method. This simple Swiss recipe is near enough guaranteed to make perch your favourite fish meat, or at least put it in your top ten.

  1. Cut your perch into small, roughly equal-sized fillet pieces. Then pat them dry, dredge lightly flour and shake away the excess.
  2. Allow olive oil and butter to melt together in a preheated pan. Once melted, add the perch fillets, skin side down.
  3. Sear the fillets for no more than two minutes whilst regularly shaking the pan to avoid the skin sticking.
  4. Once the two minutes have passed, flip the fillets over and cook for another minute.
  5. Remove the fillets and add a small amount of butter to create a sauce, then follow with a squeeze of lemon juice and parsley. 
  6. Cook the sauce until it has some body to it, then pour over the fish and serve.

Looking for the best pan options for panfrying perch and other fish? We can help with that. 


Are Freshwater Perch Safe To Eat?

Freshwater perch is both perfectly safe to eat and delicious. However, perch caught from poor and contaminated environments will have a significant impact on the quality and flavour of the fish. Perch caught in these conditions will likely be tough in texture instead of firm but crumbly. Additionally, the taste may be less than pleasant. Poor quality perch and certain subspecies may also contain higher amounts of mercury than average, however, most perch is quite low in mercury.

Can You Eat A Whole Perch?

Fresh perch are perfectly edible either whole or filleted. However, typically they will be filleted with the flesh left on as it is perfectly edible. Usually, they will also be pan-fried with butter, lemon and parsley, such as when cooked in Lake Geneva style. Another popular cooking option is to bake them which is often done as a healthy option.

Can You Eat Perch From A Pond?

Whilst Perch caught from a pond is safe to eat, the conditions of the pond will have a huge impact on the quality of the perch. Perch caught from less ideal conditions such as those with certain contaminants present will likely be tough in texture instead of firm but crumbly. Additionally, the taste may be less than pleasant. Poor quality perch and certain subspecies may also contain higher amounts of mercury than average, however, most perch is quite low in mercury.

Is Perch Fish High In Mercury?

Perch fish is considered to be quite low in mercury according to the FDA. However, despite it being lower in mercury than many other types of fish it is recommended that young children, pregnant women or nursing mothers don’t have more than twelve ounces of perch a week. This said low-quality perch or those caught from contaminated waters may contain significantly higher quantities of mercury.

Does Perch Need To Be Skinned?

Perch skin is very soft and when cooked is both perfectly edible and very delicious. Perch fillets are typically very thin and delicate. This along with their soft and edible skin makes a great fish to eat, especially when looking for something lighter.

Does Perch Have A Lot Of Bones?

Perch holds together very well and has tender white flesh when cooked. This flesh will easily separate into large fillets and flakes. Unlike other fish such as trout, however, perch doesn’t have a large number of little bones. Instead, perch has a simple skeletal structure which when combined with the resilience of the flesh makes it incredibly easy to fillet.

Final Thoughts

Perch is a delicious and healthy fish to eat that is incredibly popular across America, Europe and Asia. It is a mildly sweet flavoured fish with a firm yet crumbly texture. As such Lake Geneva style perch is a perfect meal to cook for either yourself or impress whilst staying healthy.

By James Clarke

James is an enthusiastic home-cooking hobbyist (being very modest) his taste-buds are tuned for flavor profiles that will have you salivating at the thought of what's cooking. As an occasional author at Alice's Kitchen he brings his own unique style to his articles and entertainment through them. You can always check out what he's up to over on his social profiles linked below.