When summer hits Buenos Aires, it may seem like a good idea to swap out the steak for seafood…and since Buenos Aires is located right on the river, there should be seafood aplenty, right? Not exactly. As many new arrivals to Buenos Aires quickly discover, porteños are not big fans of seafood by a long shot! There are restaurants with seafood menus to be found here in the city, so don’t despair! You might, however, find some different fish from what you’re used to, so here’s the breakdown of some common kinds of fish that you’re likely to find:
Most Common (These can be found pretty much everywhere):
– Merluza (Hake) – Depending on where you’re from in the world you may or may not be familiar with it and while it is a cousin of cod fish, it’s quite different. Merluza can be found all over the city and is probably the cheapest fish here in Buenos Aires. It’s a white fish that is very flaky, so it is typically prepared breaded and in the oven. The fact that it’s breaded is not always included on the menu since it’s apparently “obvious”.
– Salmón (Salmon) – Possibly the most expensive fish, but one of the most popular choices and easy to find all over the city and at a variety of restaurants. It may come with or without the skin, but more often without. This is very nearly the only raw fish option for sushi.
– Rabas (Calamari) – This is probably the most popular seafood item and you can find it as an appetizer at cafés, restaurants, and bars all over the city. The Calamari is typically served coated in flour and fried.
– Camarón/Langostino (Shrimp/Prawn) – Here, camarón is the word used for the average-sized shrimp/prawn and langostino is for larger shrimp/prawns. These included as part of other dishes (with salmon and assorted vegetables, for example). These are often sold pre-cooked and shelled, so when you want to make them all you need to do is heat them up! (You can also find them whole).
Fairly Common (Fish that are more likely to be served at restaurants that have a mid-sized seafood selection):
– Abadejo (Pollock) and Trucha (Trout) – Both of these are fairly firm fish that might be prepared a la parrilla (on the bbq), and often served with the skin on.
– Cornalitos (Silverside) – These are tiny fish that are often served as part of an appetizer. Often, they are served whole, but are battered and fried.
– Pulpo (Octopus) – Typically pulpo will be tiny octopus legs or little rings, and it’s something you’ll definitely see here and there as a part of other dishes (its usage is similar to shrimp), but otherwise I wouldn’t say it’s very common.
– Mejillones (Mussels) – As with shrimp/prawns, you’ll often find these sprinkled in with other dishes.
Less common (These will be at some restaurants and some stores, but more likely at ones with more extensive menus):
– Bacalao (Cod) – You’re probably more likely to see this at Brazilian restaurants.
– Pacú (Pacu) – This fish is a cousin of the piranha and is typically prepared with the skin on.
– Corvina (Corvina) – This fish is more common in traditional Peruvian and Chilean cuisine (although that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find it at restaurants here). It’s very popular in ceviche recipes, but since it’s not that easy to find here, though, you’re more likely to find salmon or other fish in the ceviche.
Finally, here are a few other names that you may (or may not!) run into: Mero (Grouper), Lenguado (Sole), Pejerrey (Sand Smelt).
One final sushi tip – as I mentioned above salmon is typically the only option for rolls and also nigiri. So if you see “tuna” in a roll, it’s probably canned tuna.
So this is just an overview of just a few kinds of fish that you’re likely to find here, but it’s not an exhaustive list. If you look hard enough, you’ll realize there is actually quite a selection of seafood restaurants (especially search under foreign cuisine like Spanish, Peruvian and Japanese) and stores around the city.