If you’re a seafood lover, you’ve no doubt eaten your fair share of fish. Whether dining out or eating in, you’re probably used to gorgeously grilled cuts of salmon or catfish. Who can resist dainty filets adorned with grains and garnishes? But what do our favorite fish actually look like before they hit the plate? We take a look at some common aquatic creatures pre-dinnertime and wow, be forewarned, some of them are pretty funky-looking. While you’re used to seeing them swimming in sauces, here’s how they appear when they’re swimming in the sea. Check out some of the ugliest catches of all and marvel at how they’re able to transform through the magic of cooking.

Monkfish

Shutterstock

With its broad head and limp body, monkfish look more like aliens than dinner. Seriously, they should star in their own sci-fi movie! These slimy, bumpy creatures also have bands of pointy teeth, which only add to their menacing appeal. But once they’re filleted and soaked in lemon butter sauce, you’d never guessed they were so ugly in the first place. It’s amazing how deceiving appearances can be!

Flounder

Shutterstock

These flatfish are found on the bottom of the ocean all around the world. But it has one feature in particular that really freaks us out—their eyes. By the time these fish mature, both eyes will have migrated to one side of their heae. It’s an awkward look for sure, but one that’s completely obliterated once it’s cooked to perfection. Pair it with panko and parmesan for a winning recipe. Just don’t serve it to the Little Mermaid!

Grouper

Shutterstock

With a mouth bigger than your great aunt Ida’s, it’s hard not to be scared of being swallowed whole by a grouper (when instead it should be the other way around!). They also have wide, stout bodies which look weirdly imposing, especially to their prey. Lucky for us, they taste pretty damn great when pan-seared and served with fruity salsa. Make our Grouper with Chilean Kiwi-Plum-Mango Salsa recipe and see for yourself.

Catfish

Shutterstock

Catfish are so ugly they’re almost cute…almost. With their long, slimy whiskers and toothless mouths, we can’t help but feel bad for these little bottom feeders. And how do we choose to express our pity? By frying them up with a side of tartar sauce. Check out our recipe for Cornmeal Fried Catfish for optimal sympathy.

Pangasius

Shutterstock

This cross between a catfish and shark draws from the ugliest aspects of both. It’s got a gray potbelly and head shaped like a shovel. If you want to go an extra step in covering up its funky appearance, try wrapping it up in bacon like this recipe calls for, so you’ll never have to look it in the eyes again.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
See more articles