Fresh Fish in Barbados: Caribbean-Style Dining

One of the most outstanding qualities of life on the island is the abundance of fresh seafood. Barbados is home to flying fish, but there is also a wide range of fish caught within ten miles of the coast: dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, albacore (albacore), swordfish, marlin, barracuda, Sailfish or Billfish, Kingfish, Bonita or Skipjack, Shark and Red Snapper, to name just a few.

For those concerned with these matters, it should be noted that the variety of dolphins found in Barbados is not SeaWorld’s bottlenose specimen – it is the multicolored blunt-nosed dolphin known as Dorado or Mahi Mahi. And while white marlin is a protected game fish in the United States, there are no such regulations in the Caribbean.

Similarly, the Baraccuda is not a recognized edible fish in North America due to a toxic impregnation called Ciguatera that is found in some species. Barracuda in the waters surrounding Barbados are free of this contamination. And yes, flying fish do fly, propelling themselves out of the water at speeds of up to 50 mph and then spreading their dorsal fins to form wings, they “fly” at distances of more than 100 yards.

There are dozens of fish sellers and fishermen in Barbados. The largest fish markets are in Bridgetown near the cruise port and in Oistins on the south coast. Several smaller fish markets are found along the south and west coasts. Our personal favorite is the Weston Fish Market in St. James, which is home to Smokey, fishmonger to the stars!

Sir Cliff Richard (who owns an elegant villa in Sugar Hill) once came to the Weston Fish Market with a television crew to film Smokey at work and broadcast it to millions of viewers in the UK. Smokey customers are a who’s who in the world of entertainment and business. It’s fascinating to watch Smokey expertly fillet a dolphin weighing more than 20 pounds in minutes with his sharp machete. If the line at Smokey’s is too long, feel free to stop by John Moore’s Bar for a “monkey” where Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been known to occasionally hold “cabinet meetings.”

Ten pounds of yellowfin tuna will cost $ 60.00 or $ 30.00 US dollars. Other varieties of fish have similar prices per pound. Flying Fish, sold at several of the neighboring stalls by a group of lovely ladies, costs $ 12.00 (US $ 6.00) for 10 “ready bones” or ready-to-cook steaks. Indicate whether you want Smokey to “fillet the fish” or leave it whole without the skin and bones. It will also include the fish head, cut into small pieces, unless otherwise instructed. Fish head soup, or fish broth, is delicious – take home a fish head and taste it.

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