Cooks often divide fish into two categories, fatty (or oily or rich) and lean. These two categories can be split again, by whether their texture is firm or flaky.
Fatty, firm fish include tuna, eels, catfish, shark, and swordfish.
Fatty, flaky fish include salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
Lean, firm fish include grouper, lingcod, mahi-mahi, and striped bass.
Lean, flaky fish include cod, flatfish, and rockfish.
Shellfish aren't technically fish, but they're usually sold at the fish counter, so we've lumped them into this category.
See also: Smoked or dried fish.
Asian markets are a good place to find these. Prod them gently before buying to make sure they're alive. The smaller ones are better. Canned or dried abalones are acceptable substitutes for fresh in some dishes. Unopened canned abalone can be stored for up to a year in a dry, cool place. Once opened, it will keep for up to two days if you wrap it well and refrigerate it.Learn more
American black caviar
If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice.Learn more
It's best to get these salted rather than canned. Rinse the salt off before using. Unopened canned anchovies can be stored for up to a year in a dry, cool place. Once opened, they will keep for up to two days if you wrap them well and refrigerate them.Learn more
A trout relative, the arctic char is highly prized for its sweetness and tenderness. It's often roasted or smoked.Learn more
Japanese fishermen tie knots around the necks of cormorants (black sea birds) and have them dive and catch these exquisite fish. They're very sweet and delicate.Learn more
The flesh is firm and white and milder than our catfish. This Vietnamese catfish relative has a mild flavor and firm texture.Learn more
Shopping hints: These are easier to find in the East than in the West. Frozen scallops are a good substitute for fresh.Learn more
In recent years, over-fishing in the Caspian Sea has greatly depleted sturgeon populations. Please consider using caviar and roe from more abundant species until the Caspian Sea sturgeon populations can recover. Beluga caviar is one of the best and priciest of the caviars. The eggs are large and bluish-grey, and slightly sweet. A pasteurized version is available in jars, but fresh caviar is much better. Malossol (lightly salted) beluga is the finest, and the most expensive. If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice. For substitutions for caviar in general, click here.Learn more
These are found on the Atlantic coast. They're small, but otherwise similar to Dungeness crabs. When they molt, they're called soft-shelled crabs, a wonderful delicacy that can be eaten shell and allLearn more
This is a ten inch fish is native to coastal India. It is eaten fresh or salted and dried. It can have a very powerful smell.Learn more
Bonito are related to mackerel, and the Japanese dry them and use them in soups. They're often shaved into thin flakes called bonito flakes or hanakatsuo.Learn more
This Mediterranean specialty is made from the salted and sun-dried roe of either tuna (bottarga di tonno) or mullet (bottarga di muggine). You usually buy it as a sausage and shave off thin slices for hors d'oeuvres or grate it over pasta, fish, or salads. It's expensive but very tasty.Learn more
This has small, very dark olive-green eggs with medium firmness. It's an inexpensive, environmentally responsible alternative to the luxury caviars from the Caspian Sea. Consider perking up the flavor with a splash of fresh lemon juice.Learn more
The buffalo fish is a North American bottom feeding game fish. It is similar to a carp. They are long lived and can grow up to 80 lb. and 4'.Learn more
The name "butterfish" is sometimes also given to sablefish and to the delicious escolar, which you should read about before buying, since it's also called ex-lax fish.Learn more
Over-fishing in the Caspian Sea has greatly depleted sturgeon populations. Please consider using roe from more abundant species until the Caspian Sea sturgeon populations can recover. Caviar is known for its subtle, buttery flavor, sensuous texture, and high price. It should always be served cold. Just as diamonds are rated according to the four Cs, caviar can be evaluated by the three Fs--flavor, firmness, and freshness. The flavor of caviar depends on the sturgeon's species and habitat, and is variously described as buttery, nutty, sweet, fruity, earthy, briny, and even herbaceous. The firmness of each egg determines how the eggs burst when you squeeze them against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Fresh caviar is considered much better than the pasteurized version. Varieties: (from highest to lowest price) imperial caviar, beluga caviar, ossetra caviar, and sevruga caviar. Imperial caviar is the rarest and most expensive. Beluga caviar is soft, and almost melts in your mouth. Ossetra and sevruga caviars are relatively firm, and will pop when gently squeezed. Within these categories, malossol, or lightly salted caviar, is of higher quality than pressed caviar = payusnaya. If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice. Equivalents: 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce Fresh caviar lasts just over a year if properly stored, though its shelf-life can be extended with heavy salting. Experts claim that some of the fresh caviar that's being sold at bargain prices over the Internet is well past its prime. The color and size of the eggs--called the bead--can help you (and your guests) identify the different varieties of caviar.Learn more
See also pismo clam, soft-shell clam, razor clam, Manila clam, hard-shell clam, bar clam, and geoduck clam. Storage: Unopened canned clams can be stored for up to a year in a dry, cool place. Once opened, it will keep for up to two days if you wrap it well and refrigerate it.Learn more
This includes cod cheeks, which are good and inexpensive, cod tongues, cod sounds, which are the cod's air bladders, and scrod = schrod, which are young cod. See also salt cod.Learn more