What Is Best Alternative To Hilsa Fish?  

American Shad Fish

If you are in North America then you are certainly aware that how difficult to get fresh Hilsa or Ilish Mach (in Bengali). Either you get frozen whole Hilsa or frozen cleaned Hilsa pre-cut into pieces. Either of the varieties loses its taste overtime and scares me off  by looking at the packaging date. Some of them are even more than a year old. Also, not to mention how expensive they are. So what is the alternative to get a reasonably fresh hilsa fish without compromising on quality and price?

In North America, you will get a fish called American Shad. Shad is similar looking fish to Hilsa and it tastes too. I’ve tried Shad many times and If I were asked to rate this fish I would say about 90% similar in taste and texture. They are usually available in the US and Canada during early summer in the month of May through June. You need to look out specially for this fish in your nearest store as they are available only for a short period of time with limited avaiblaity. It’s also 1/3 of the price you pay for Bangladeshi frozen hilsa. Really cheap.

What I do is I buy them fresh from market (not to mention, but you certainly you know how to buy a fresh fish by looking under the fish gills) and stock and  freze them for about 6 months supply. Better than one year old frozen Bangaldeshi hilsa.

Shad fish can be prepared the same way you prepare all Hilsa recipes.

See some of them here…

  1. Hilsa Fish Fry
  2. Hilsa Fish Bhapa
  3. Hilsha Fish Plain Jhol
  4. Doi Ilish
  5. Lau Ilish
  6. Ilish Sorshe Jhol
  7. Kachu Ilish

Let me know if you’ve ever tried Shad fish and how did you like it.


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18 Responses to What Is Best Alternative To Hilsa Fish?

  1. sutanu Chaudhuri says:

    I don’t agree .. I believe you are comparing apples and oranges here although I would agree that this fish has a great taste in its own right.

    • Mili BR says:

      I don’t know which Shad fish you have tried. I tried the one which is available in North America and several of my friends tried as a Hilsa alternative.

    • Rony Ahmed says:

      There is obvious flavor variation due to what it feeds on and geographical differences. If it was all marine specie it would taste the same no matter where it was harvested from just like Tuna does.

      Since Shads migrates up river for spawning when it is harvested taste and flavor reflects the estruary or river it was caught from. We have grown special affinity on Ilish caught in Padma river.

      Since I am in North America, I also buy and store fresh shad for at least few months during the season.

      And I prefer American Shad to Bangla Ilish for following reasons.

      1. Bones are softer in American Shads, less possibilty of chocking hazard
      2. Post harvest handling of Bangla Ilish is not very hygeinic, often time filthy and unsanitary
      3.It is often tainted with Formalin
      4.Most of them are freezer burned due to poor packaging
      5. Very expensive

  2. ankita says:

    mili from which store,do u know the name of the store where i can find it.

  3. Pramit PC says:

    This makes perfect sense. The common biological name for hilsa in English is “Indian shad”. These are two subspecies of the same fish and both are members of the larger herring family.
    Of course, Bengalis fight over the supposed difference in the taste of Padma hilsa versus Kolaghat hilsa. But I suspect the American one will be probably in a healthier condition than its Hooghly version given levels of pollution, etc.


  4. Syed says:

    I tried every thing but could not find american shad. I live in Columbus OH
    If you know a source please share

  5. Ankush says:

    does anyone know where or which source or store you can buy American Shad?

    • Protap Pramanick says:

      Hale’s Shad – Rocky Hill, CT | Groupon
      https://www.groupon.com › … › Glastonbury › Food & Drink › Groceries & Markets

      Start with the calamari and save room for the fresh catch at Rocky Hill’s Hale’s Shad ? this Rocky Hill seafood spot has quite the selection.At Hale’s Shad, we supply free parking. No fees, just your car and our lot.A typical meal at Hale’s Shad will set you back less than $30. You can leave the credit cards at home when

  6. bong connection says:

    come to detroit michigan. plenty of them

  7. Ahsan says:

    Where can I find this “American Shad” in Texas? Does anyone know? Thanks

  8. Somdev Sarkar says:

    For those who are looking for a store to get American Shad – please try out the nearest Jungle Jim’s – you should get it.

  9. Didar says:

    Where in NY can be found?g

  10. Kamal says:

    Milk fish in Canada is close to that!

  11. Hilsa is my favorite fish. Among all kind of fish I like very much hilsa. Basically hilsa fry is super tasty. I heard hilsa produces in sweet water that mean river water, Is it right?

  12. […] search shows American shad is the best alternative and is used as an ilish substitute in the U.S. It seams like in some regions, where demand for this […]

  13. Debbie says:

    Sardines are quite close to Ilish, in terms of flavour and especially the aroma.

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