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.

monkfish liver
monkfish liver
This exquisite Japanese delicacy has the texture and richness of a choice pâté de foie gras. It's usually poached, steamed, or sautéed before serving in order. Look for it in well-stocked Japanese markets.
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mullet
mullet
This category includes red mullet, white mullet, and the fattier black mullet = striped mullet.
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mussels
mussels
Storage: Unopened canned mussels 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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ormer
ormer
This is a variety of abalone found in the Mediterain and North Atlantic.
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ossetra caviar
ossetra 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. Ossetra caviar is brown and more strongly flavored than beluga caviar. Don't confuse ordinary ossetra with the rare and expensive golden ossetra = imperial caviar. If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice. For substitutions for caviar in general, click here.
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oyster
oyster
The French like to serve these raw in the shell, with just a squirt of fresh lemon juice, but they can also be fried, grilled, or gently poached. If you eat them raw, you'll need to shuck them first; an oyster knife comes in handy for this. Storage: Unopened canned oysters 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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paddlefish roe
paddlefish roe
Paddlefish swim in Southern rivers and they're relatives of sturgeons--the fish that produce the world's most expensive and exquisite caviars. Paddlefish roe is very similar to sevruga caviar, only it's cheaper. Since Caspian Sea sturgeon are rapidly becoming depleted from over-fishing, many people are turning to paddlefish roe as a substitute for caviar.
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parrotfish
parrotfish
This tropical fish is delicious, but environmentalists worry that overfishing will harm coral reefs, since parrotfish clean them of algae. In addition, parrotfish also convert dead coral into white sand (up to 220 pounds of sand per fish per year) that we all love to walk and play volleyball on. As with all reef fish, parrotfish also contain a toxin called ciguatera, which can cause food poisoning. You can reduce the risk by not eating the fish's head or organs.
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peekytoe crabs
peekytoe crabs
These small, highly prized crabs resemble Dungeness crabs, only they're much smaller. It's hard to find whole crabs, but many seafood shops in New England sell peekytoe crab meat.
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perch
perch
This category includes walleye = wall-eyed pike, and Nile perch = Lake Victoria perch.
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periwinkle
periwinkle
These marine snails are better known in Europe and Japan than in the United States. They're great in any clam chowder recipe, though they tend to get tough if overcooked. Look for them in Asian markets.
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pilchards
pilchards
Pilchards belong to the same species as sardines, but they're caught in colder waters and are bigger.
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pismo clam
pismo clam
pismos are highly regarded.
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pollock
pollock
Pollock is an important north Pacific groundfish.
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pollock roe
pollock roe
Asian markets sell this inexpensive roe in wooden boxes. It's often baked and served on rice.
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pomfret
pomfret
You can buy frozen pomfret in Asian markets.
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porgies
porgies
This category includes the scup = fair maid, sea bream, red porgy, sheepshead porgy, shad porgy, whitebone porgy, and jolthead porgy. Porgies tend to be bony, but they're highly prized for their delicate flavor.
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Prince Edward Island mussel
Prince Edward Island mussel
These farmed-raised mussels are sweet and beardless.
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salmon
salmon
Species include; coho salmon, chinook salmon, red sockeye, pink salmon, and chum salmon. Unopened canned salmon 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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salmon roe
salmon roe
These eggs just explode in your mouth. They make wonderful hors d'oeuvres.
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salted herring roe
salted herring roe
This is very salty and very expensive.
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sardines
sardines
Unopened canned sardines 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.
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scallop roe
scallop roe
This coral-colored roe is expensive and hard to find, but it has a wonderful, delicate flavor. The roe is usually both sold and served with the scallop that produced it.
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sea slug
sea slug
comes dried or fresh
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sea urchin roe
sea urchin roe
Red roe is more expensive than yellow, but the taste is similar.
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sevruga caviar
sevruga 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. Greenish-gray sevruga has the smallest eggs and strongest flavor of all the caviars. Because of this, it's cheaper than beluga or ossetra, but still quite good. If substituting an inferior caviar, consider perking it up with a splash of fresh lemon juice. For substitutions for caviar in general, click here.
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shad roe
shad roe
You can buy lobes of this roe fresh in the springtime, or in cans during the rest of the year. Canned shad roe is good, but not quite as good as fresh.
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