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Perch is a freshwater fish of genus Perca, which is a popular seafood throughout the United States. Among various species of perch, yellow perch is the most common and widely consumed. Perch can be cooked in a variety of ways, viz. baking, frying, and roasting. Perch is considered to be a healthy food choice, as it is enriched with various vital nutrients, which help in promoting heart and brain health. Perch is often cooked after being coated with several seasonings, herbs, and other ingredients like flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs.

Species of Perch

There are several species of perch, with the three most popular ones being discussed as follows:

  • European perch- it is found in the water bodies of Asia and Europe. It is a green colored fish with the tips of fins being orange or red in color, and the sides of the fish having dark vertical bars. This species has been introduced successfully in Australia and New Zealand too, popularly known as English perch or redfin perch. The European fish grows maximum upto six pounds.
  • Balkhash perch- this fish species belongs to Kazakhstan, China, and Uzbekistan, and is quite similar to European perch.
  • Yellow perch- this species of perch is paler and smaller than European species, and is commonly found in Canada and U.S. In Northern regions, the fish is also called by the name “lake perch” or “ocean perch”. Yellow perch is basically used for culinary purposes, and appears similar in appearance to European perch, with the difference lying in terms of color, with the yellow perch having more of yellow color. Yellow perch weighs only upto 2.25 pounds, and grows upto 15 inches.

Apart from the aforementioned three main species of perch, a few other consist of golden perch, silver perch, spangled perch, and pikeperch (commonly known as walleye), with the first three being native to Australia, and the fourth one found in North America.

Choosing Perch for Culinary Use

While choosing perch for culinary use, it is important to make sure that the fish is moist and has translucent flesh. Further, the fish should spring back into its shape after being pressed lightly with the fingers.

Popular Recipes

Yellow perch, also known as ocean perch or lake perch, is mainly used for culinary purposes. A few popular recipes of perch have been discussed hereunder:

  • Baked parmesan perch- butter coated perch fillets are dipped in a mix of parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, basil, and paprika, and baked in a greased baking pan until the fish gets flaky.
  • Pan fried perch- the pan fried perch recipe suggests soaking fish fillets in ice water for around thirty minutes, and then pan frying the fillets in oil until golden brown after being coated with flour, cornmeal, and seasoning mix.
  • Crunchy fried perch fillets- salt seasoned and flour coated perch fillets are dipped in a mix of water and eggs, and fried in hot oil after being coated with cracker crumbs. The fillets are fried until brown.
  • Herbed perch- the herbed perch recipe suggests baking perch fillets in oven after being brushed with a mix of marjoram leaves, pepper, onion salt, and lemon juice.

Nutrition and Health Facts

One perch fillet of 46 g provides around 54 calories, obtained from 1 g of fat, 11 g of protein, 53 mg of cholesterol, and 36 g of sodium. Perch fish is a good source of vitamin B 12, phosphorus, and selenium, which helps in adequately meeting the requirements of the human body. Due to being low in fat content, the fish is considered to be healthy for consumption. Further, ocean perch is low in mercury content, hence proving to be good for the health of post - menopausal women and middle aged men, who have greater chances of being affected by heart diseases. The health related aspects associated with a few vital nutrients contained in perch have been discussed as under:

  • Good fats- The fish contains negligible amount of saturated fats, which are bad fats. The fish contains unsaturated fats, which are good for heart health. It is suggested to consume perch fish twice in a week for promoting cardiovascular health. The fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help in maintaining appropriate arterial health and helps in lowering triglyceride levels.
  • Protein- The protein content in perch helps in speeding up the healing process of wounds and injuries. It also plays a crucial role with respect to lean tissue growth.
  • Phosphorus- Perch is also a good source of phosphorus, which assists in the process of bone formation.
  • Vitamin B12- being a good source of vitamin B12, the health of the brain and nerves is promoted with the help of intake of perch. Further, the production of red blood cells is also improved due to high vitamin B 12 in perch fish.
  • Selenium- perch contains an element, selenium, which helps in boosting up the metabolism level of an individual, and also aids in improving the functioning of thyroid.

Tip- in order to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination, ocean perch should be cooked until white, flaky, and firm.

Further Reading

Fishes of the Perch Family by William Jardine