My Two Cents: Salmon Rules But Is Paiche Headed To Your Kitchen?

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Siray and CarmenAccording to my fishmongers Siray and Carmen (Siray is wearing the black hat and Carmen has the green hat), salmon is the number one fish sold at the Bethesda Whole Foods. Number two is tilapia and number three is cod.

Folks in Bethesda are not too far off the overall trends for national fish consumption. According to the National Fisheries Institute — the folks who track what fish we eat — salmon is number three, tilapa is number four, and cod is number eight.  Number one is shrimp and number two is canned tuna. You can check the trends here.

Right now, the fish that isn’t moving at my go-to Whole Foods is paiche (pronounced pie-che, as in Che Guevara).  But according to Siray and Carmen, it isn’t moving because paiche, imported from Peru, is new to Bethesda and customers need time to adjust. And so I adjusted by helping out and buying a nice paiche fillet.

My cooked paiche made for an absolutely delicious dinner — very mild, sort of meaty like Chilean sea bass. I cut the paiche fillet into 3-ounce pieces, dressed the fish with olive oil, fresh lime juice, lime zest, lots of grounded fresh black pepper, and salt. I baked the paiche at a very high heat (450 degrees) for eight minutes in a cast iron skillet. (Cooking hint: Use a pad of butter to fire up the skillet on a burner first). Perfect! My side dish — good, old school succotash.

So the next time you’re standing in front of the fish counter and questioning if there’s life without salmon, go ahead and take a chance on paiche.

Here are some links that will help provide a little more context.

Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail. He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.

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