Fresh Fish in Barbados – Dining Caribbean Style
One of the more salient qualities of island living is the abundance of fresh seafood. Barbados is home to the flying fish, but there is also a wide range of fish caught within ten miles of the coast: Dolphin, Wahoo, Yellow Fin Tuna, Albacore (white tuna), Swordfish, Marlin, Barracuda, Sailfish or Billfish, Kingfish, Bonita or Skipjack, Shark, and Red Snapper to name just a few.
It must be noted for those concerned with such matters that the dolphin variety found in Barbados isn’t of the bottlenosed SeaWorld specimen: It is the multi-colored, blunt nosed dolphin known as Dorado or Mahi Mahi. And while the White Marlin is a protected gamefish in the United States, there are no such regulations in the Caribbean.
Similarly, the Baraccuda is not a recognized food fish in North America due to a toxic impregnation called Ciguatera found in some species. Barracuda in the waters surrounding Barbados are free of this contamination. And yes, the flying fish do fly, propelling themselves from the water at speeds of up to 50 mph and then, spreading their dorsal fins to form wings, “fly” for distances in excess of 100 yards.
There are scores of fish sellers and fisherfolk in Barbados. The largest fish markets are located in Bridgetown near the cruise ship port and in Oistins on the South Coast. Several smaller fish markets are located along both the South and West Coasts. Our personal favorite is the Weston fish market in St. James that is the home of Smokey, fishmonger to the stars!
Sir Cliff Richard (who owns an elegant villa at Sugar Hill) once arrived at the Weston Fish Market with a television crew in tow in order to film Smokey at work for broadcast to millions of viewers in the UK. Smokey’s clients are a who’s who of the entertainment and business world. It is fascinating to watch Smokey expertly filet a Dolphin weighing upwards of 20 lb in minutes with his razor sharp machete. If the line at Smokey’s is too long, feel free to step next door to John Moore’s Bar for a “onesie” where the Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, is known to hold the occasional “cabinet meeting.”
Ten pounds of yellow fin tuna will cost $60.00 or $30.00 US. Other varieties of fish have similar per pound pricing. Flying Fish, which is sold in several of the neighboring stalls by a group of lovely ladies, is $12.00 (US$6.00) for 10 “ready bone” or ready to cook filets. Indicate whether you want Smokey to “steak the fish” or to leave it whole with just the skin and bones removed. He will also include the fish head, chopped in to small pieces, unless he is instructed otherwise. Fish Head soup, or fish stock, is delicious—take home a fish head and give it a try!