Croakers, Grunts, Small Fry, and Sea Bass – Fish in Lima

Lima is a city of fish eaters. The advice is to eat the freshest fish of the day. But, what is it? Usually, the waiter explains that it is a local white-fleshed fish. Here is list of some of the fish I’ve seen served in restaurants here in Lima. I’m not a fisher so most of my research is from the worldwide web and my local subject matter experts (who are better than Google!). Also useful sites were the FAO and this blog.

Corvina = croaker, grunt, or drum: used for ceviche and almost everything else.
Mero = grouper: also commonly used here.
Chita = grunt: usually deep fried whole so you can eat it with your hands.
Lenguado = Dover sole: delicate fish often used to stuff with crab meat.
Cabrilla = rock sea bass: like corvina
Ojo de uva (grape eye) = sea bass: used like corvina
Charela/Cherela = weakfish (probably in the croaker family): also used like corvina
Espada (and espadilla) = swordfish (and scabbard fish): firm dry fish
Pejerrey = smelt/silverfish: Young fish or “small fry” hence why it’s usually fried.
Lisa (mujol) = mullet: But not “business in the front; party in the back” kind of mullet.
Rodaballo = turbot: A flatfish.
Trucha – trout (This name is used for smaller river fish and for the larger, orange-fleshed salmon-like fish). Keep in mind that salmon in Lima is imported from Chile.
Atun – tuna
Most of these fish names change depending on where you are fishing, and on fashion. For example, corvina sounds better than croaker. I imagine that many restaurants in English speaking places will start using corvina rather than croaker on their menus.

The Fish Market of Lima

MV5OWt0RjLjSqNoWHe-zzqeA3ONECsqov1N2X-ZAZQ5dnGwy62_arolE8Fk3F6DMYOUnQjayEp-JI9qCPaVjw1g0Q8ybWS6EWgesjQAbQM2-djHnzc4xfQBq1pZ8D3mIb9kcPJqKdws7VqwZiZydphp2dEEKdS95RJMKtDDta2ksnsD6oMMN4i4IFVVisiting the fish market of Lima made me miss Bourdain. But, I went in his spirit. The Terminal Pescuaro or wholesale fish market is where the restaurant owners shop for the freshest fish of the day. At 4 in the morning. The market is open from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. It’s located out in Villa Maria del Triunfo. As a foreigner, visiting any place that sounds like a drug mule name… in the middle of the night… is not a good idea.

4973k3HqTo__WIAiAUlcuMFKp1mZ2UlBjsTBrcLCqpXcsgrDMCjKwk5feLr6JIMOrsgZeoC1QMueMzRxFCgKvRvBD6NvRONLAsmamO4NKxUl4S0N-VzbrfRfHaqOexR45gSZHIPNaAHr_waqtpoVSydXA_ZI2Mf8cB5IGhU14FdbiAHie8e-MaVBDLEven though I could see from the online photos that it didn’t look like a picturesque place, I still wanted to visit. The prices are good (2 bucks for a pound of fish). Apparently, one could get some fresh ceviche in the food court above the fish terminal. That sounded fresh. Right? In order not to give my Peruvian friends extreme heart palpitations, I hired a local from Villa Maria del Triunfo to pick me up, drive me, guide me, and stay with me at all times. People said to wear rubber boots. If you have some, you could. But, then, also, wear a rain coat.

FgZRK41PctwyElVkQi7HgtsNwcnQgK6huDJLWrW-RKTGKbUjHIRtQ9qElumEVt7aMq723JAtJUebMs_G6Y6OrIAeVDIQTPHKDqcYPBmX61hgbv-M452lsy3LkhFBlFV74SmZorg5mPt7vhGtzwkxYY-WSbXHteUPUyDJx7Cy2LG-PauMtWy9dgvXXmWe arrived at 10 a.m. long after most of the fish was sold. The hall is more of a hangar and it’s a wet market with slush and ice on the floor. Trucks are parked inside and most of the fish is in blue plastic flats, some packed with ice. It’s not pretty and it smells of fish. At 10 a.m., there was still the bustle and hustle of any market, but the fish looked only slightly more exhausted than the fishmongers. Therefore, I did enjoy when one of the fishwives sashayed to me and asked me straight up, “what are you looking for?” (An aside: I kind of like it when sales folk also add a “love” or “my queen” at the end of the pitch). Another salesman jumped in and the sassy fishwife didn’t like it! She pushed him aside and they almost got into fisticuffs.

q3Ufbwsz1UYr66aqN69rAoYqZFii1BFq4nkpd56oHVuzcq6ot9e7bnFx_M7UXKR21dtWf2gYE2u0G5ntyVe3TbeNtTSJob2RWZ_LJ6gPJmlAC6IjJ9MAjZFGGjtyHe8iuCQzW7xisZmIEoN7NLu8rwDLnNT9XSm7_hdCWqlhpsmLQMayzcNbHKbVLiAs we walked around, the fish vendors went about their business and I got touched by a few dead fish along the way. Hence why you might want to wear a raincoat along with your rubber boots. I wore neither so I smelled like fish. Old fish.

When we got around to the end of the market, we saw that there were other items sold at the market as well, including limes and other items for ceviche. Afterwards, we went upstairs to eat fresh fish. When we went upstairs, we were surrounding by sharks. These sharks were ladies who swarmed around us trying to get our business at their food stall. Really pushy ladies. I liked it.

bYbteVRHDykPEdre5R-2rxB7LDZn41yJ8L8RsnlFLcJVMZTFMhqF3yomyPOZ8XJfPnF1LcUEjn7ms1l2t5vfkH9uiq-b1Y0qy6TbJ-J1tD_UwAaRglenYp9M3NP_mqRtTX3EKQCvfCYs5wlLWHfrN0a0KzLF90Tm4hzP8dLcnMDxTvPcYFwsu3lZRrAs the food court was right on top of the fish market, we naively hoped for fresh fish…. We ordered leche de tigre (the lime sauce resulting from making ceviche), chupe (soup), ceviche, and deep fried fish. All of them were fishy and I did not find them edible.

YG7vWJ9yHHlNzaPlmnFNYwiw3kXfV66axevIDe7oRIrz0z8Dh5C8GvnZkoY5VgeV1fm0yX8q0bQuG96352KeRsiD9pFL-MS-b9isLwcJomwHEOzYxvcH2N7Vz7S6nIsiCtNH1Sob-kbY3zqzNZQI7uMdumiELc_6P1sg1XpxYda3plp5JfwNIySnW4Overall, I enjoyed the outing, but I’ll write about where to get fresh fish another time. For now, go fish.