A friend of mine mentioned he wished he could find snakehead fish (Channa marulius) to make me a fish curry his mother used to make him in India. I haven't been able to find a source of this fish locally or else in Canada (it's considered an invasive species).

Any recommendations on something that would be a good replacement?


Here is an article in the Washington Post on a local caught taste test for snakehead: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/05/20/snakehead-taste-test-can-a-fish-this-ugly-really-taste-that-good-photos/?utm_term=.6ff5bd89c114

They compare snakehead directly to cod, tilapia, and flounder and indirectly with catfish cooked in various ways, in general comparing it favorable with each, a bit firmer than cod or tilapia. Though I have not had the opportunity to have snakehead, this is consistent with other reports that I have had which list it as similar to catfish, usually reported as a bit cleaner or milder flavor. Similar flavor and ability to grab spices to tilapia, but a firmer texture that holds up to cooking. I would think that catfish or maybe mahi-mahi would be candidates for a curry for their ability to stand up to a bit extra cooking while candidates like tilapia tend to be thin fillets and soft so may well not stand up as well.

  • Thanks for the excellent breakdown and reference article. Cod is very easy to get here in Eastern Canada and a shorting cooking time might help with the firmness. I'll give this info to my local meat market and hope for the best. – Andrew Grothe Nov 3 '17 at 13:38

I'd suggest catfish as a replacement.

If you really want to try to find snakehead, a place like Roberts Fish Market or Humphries Specialty Store can order them. You can get it imported frozen into the U.S., probably the same in Canada. So look under the bigger fish sellers, those that deliver to stores, or specialty meat stores, those that sell things on order like elk, buffalo, zebra and such. You need a meat market store with a import permit to have shipped to. It will not be cheap.

Or ask at some Asian stores. It is a popular fish in Asia. They would know the area store to order from, or could order it maybe.

  • 2
    I've edited your comment into your answer, because it was the only thing that actually answered the question. The OP asked for a substitution, so that should be the starting point of your answer. I left the content of the rest alone, and just tried to make it easier to understand. (I would say, though, that it may not be all that helpful to suggest specific meat markets that are, as far as I can tell, in Illinois.) – Cascabel Oct 31 '17 at 19:19
  • Our local Asian store closed down last year. So disappointing. I will check at our local meat market though, as they carry a rather large selection of fish too. – Andrew Grothe Nov 1 '17 at 11:52

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