Fish Category


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.

shrimp, prawn
There are many different species of shrimp, but generally speaking, the larger the shrimp, the tastier. In the US and Britain, large shrimp are called prawns; in India, all shrimp are prawns. Bay shrimp are very small. You can buy shrimp raw (sometimes called green), or cooked. Don't buy cooked shrimp if you plan to serve it warm--they turns rubbery when reheated. Unopened canned shrimp 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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skate, skate wing
Skates are delicious, but many people are put off by their bizarre looks. Only the wings are edible. Like their shark relatives, skates have cartilage and tough, sandpapery skin. One way to loosen the skin is to poach them briefly in a mixture of three parts water, one part vinegar. After you peel off the skin, the wing can be further poached, or baked or fried.
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smelt roe, masago
smelt roe
This is bright orange and moderately crunchy.
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smoked sprats
smoked sprats
These come in cans packed in oil. Northern Europeans like them on hearty bread.
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smoked whitefish
smoked whitefish
This is delicious in salads. Look for it in upscale delis.
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snow crab, queen crab, rock crab, spider crab, tanner crab
snow crab
This is an East Coast version of the king crab.
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soft-shell clam, Essex clams, Ipswich clams, piss clams, sand gaper, steamer
soft-shell clam
steamer Includes: Highly regarded Maine steamers and Long Island steamers, and less esteemed Maryland steamers.
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sole, Dover sole, English sole, gray sole, petrale sole, Rex sole
Includes gray sole, petrale sole, English sole, Dover sole, and Rex sole.
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spiny eel, eel, spiny
spiny eel
In the United States, you're more likely to find these in an aquarium that in a supermarket, but Southeast Asians consider them a delicacy.
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sprats, European sprats
These tiny fish are similar to anchovies and sardines, and often sold in cans. You're supposed to eat the whole thing, including the head and tail.
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stone crab, moro crab, morro crab
stone crab
This is found on the East Coast, especially in Florida. Just the claws are harvested. Substitutes: claws of blue crabs
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surimi, crab sticks, imitation seafood, sea legs, seafood sticks
Imitation crab meat. It is normally made from processed fish meat.
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taape, blue-lined snapper, blue-stripe snapper, ta'ape
This beautiful fish was introduced to Hawaii in 1958, and it multiplied so quickly that it's now crowding out some native species. Buying this fish helps prod fishermen to rid Hawaiian waters of this nuisance. It's a tasty fish, too, though there's concern that some of these fish may carry ciguatera, a toxin that affects certain reef fish.
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tarama, taramo
Greek markets often carry jars of this pink cod roe. It's often used to make taramasalata, which is tarama mixed with a filler (like bread crumbs), oil, and seasonings.
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trout caviar, trout roe
trout caviar
These are great for making hors d'oeuvres.
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tuna, ahi, aku, albacore, bigeye, blackfin, bluefin, bonito, kawakawa
Unopened canned tuna 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. Varieties include albacore, bluefin, blackfin, bonito, skipjack = aku, kawakawa, and the leaner yellowfin = bigeye = ahi.
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Turbot is an outstanding fish, but somewhat expensive.
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Vesiga is the spinal cord of a European sturgeon. It is considered a delicacy in Russia. Coulibiac is a Russian dish that features vesiga.
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