Cheap food can be cheap for a bunch of different reasons. Well, OK, it's generally cheap for one reason - it's not very desirable. That reason can be for a bunch of different secondary reasons. It might not be very good. It might be difficult to work with. Or it might just be a secret - nobody knows how good it is.
Remember when nobody knew about short ribs? And you could afford short ribs? That's because nobody knew how good they were until the whole short rib thing blew up huge and now everyone wants them and they're as expensive as fucking ribeye. The humble chicken thigh is going in that direction as well, although luckily, America's hatred of bones is a huge help in that regard.
Fish is trickier. Fish don't have many different parts. You can get them whole, but whole ones require a lot of practice to deal with efficiently. Yes, they do. I don't want to hear it. You think it's easy because you got the practice in early and you've forgotten how you started out mangling the shit out of fish.
So when it comes to affordable fish, you generally have to look to less desirable species, not less desirable cuts. That's a trickier proposition. There aren't a lot of secret awesome fish out there. But when I saw hake loins at Costco for less than tilapia prices, I thought I'd give it a try.
I mean, I don't... dislike tilapia, as such. They're just skinny-ass fish, so the fillets are skinny-ass fillets, which limits their utilities. Hake loins are more rectangular prisms, similar to mahi mahi in thickness and shape. It browns up OK, stays together in the pan OK, and tastes like whitefish.
Texturally, it's a bit on the mushy side. Not a deal-breaker given the price, but this isn't a secret diamond in the rough here. It's just not as firm or toothsome as mahi mahi. Which might be the processing, but I'm comparing Costco frozen fillets to Costco frozen fillets here, so...
On the upside, they're very inexpensive as fish fillets go, and they're good on the sustainability side. I should try a frying application rather than a pan-roast to see how it holds up that way.