Fish

Fish

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.

cuttlefish
cuttlefish
This is a close relative of squid and octopus. You can sometimes find dried cuttlefish in Asian markets.
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drums
drums
This category includes yellowfish = yellow croaker (pictured), corvina = spotfin croaker, drum, redfish = red drum, white sea bass, kingfish, weakfish, and spot. Substitutes: hake (tastier) OR mullet OR tuna OR red snapper OR pompano.
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Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab
Found on the Pacific coast, the Dungeness is a large crab highly prized for its sweet meat.
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eel
eel
These haven't caught on much in the U.S., but they're highly prized in Europe and Japan for their rich, firm meat and terrific flavor. Freshness is crucial, so always buy live eels. Smaller eels are more tender. This category includes conger eel = conger = anago, which are tough saltwater eels that are sometimes available in fish markets in the spring and summer, elvers = angulas = baby eels, which are about an inch long and very expensive, and freshwater eel = unagi.
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elvers
elvers
juvenile eels
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escolar
escolar
This excellent Hawaiian fish tastes like a buttery halibut. Unfortunately, it contains a natural laxative and eating it can cause serious gastrointestinal distress. Because of this, several governments (though not the US) have either banned its importation or required that it be sold with warning labels. A workaround is to eat only small (four ounces or less) portions of the fish, or to bring a change of clothes if you're dining out.
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farmed salmon
farmed salmon
These are salmon that are raised in pens in the ocean.
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flying fish roe
flying fish roe
These fluorescent orange eggs are wonderfully crunchy and flavorful. The Japanese are particularly fond of them.
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golden caviar
golden caviar
This has crunchy, amber-colored eggs and makes a colorful garnish. They're often flavored with various seasonings before they're sold.
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grouper
grouper
This category includes California sea bass, jewfish, and cabrilla.
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hackleback roe
hackleback roe
This American caviar comes from farm-raised hacklebacks.
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hard-shell clam
hard-shell clam
Littleneck clams are smaller than cherrystone clams which are smaller than quahog clams = quahaug clams = chowder clams which are smaller than ocean quahog clams = ocean quahaug clams = mahogany clams = black clams.
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herring roe
herring roe
The Japanese traditionally serve this on New Year's Day. It has an interesting texture, but it's not very flavorful.
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imperial caviar
imperial caviar
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. For substitutions for caviar in general, click here.
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Jonah crab
Jonah crab
These are found in the coastal waters of New England.
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kamaboko
kamaboko
This colorful Japanese specialty is made of a fish paste that's been molded into logs or half-logs.
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king crab
king crab
These have long, spindly legs and are found off the coast of Alaska and Japan.
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lox
lox
Look for this in the deli section of your grocery stores.
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lumpfish roe
lumpfish roe
Lumpfish roe is relatively cheap; the eggs come in red or black.
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mackerel
mackerel
Unopened canned mackerel 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.
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mahi-mahi
mahi-mahi
Though leaner than, say salmon or tuna, mahi-mahi packs a lot of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
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monkfish
monkfish
This fish isn't a looker, but it has a flavor and texture that's been compared to lobster and scallops.
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