Here is a glossary of some of the fish you are likely to
find in your market.
Arctic char: Very similar to salmon; usually farmraised.
Also known as salmon trout.
Bluefish: A dark-fleshed, strong-flavored, oily fish.
The fresher it is, the milder the flavor.
Catfish: A beloved freshwater fish of the American
South. Farm-raised catfish are readily available.
Cod: This saltwater fish, found in both Atlantic
and Pacific waters, is known for its mild flavor and
white, flaky flesh. Small cod are called scrod.
Flounder: A popular flatfish with white flesh, a
delicate texture, and mild flavor.
Grouper: Has firm, meaty, white flesh and is sold
whole or filleted.
Halibut: A large flatfish with firm, flavorful flesh.
Often sold as fillets, but one of the few flatfish thick
enough to be cut into steaks.
Mackerel: An oily fish with a pronounced fish flavor.
When large, it is called Spanish mackerel.
A favored fish in Provence, monkfish
has firm flesh and a lobsterlike flavor.
Pompano: On the West Coast, pompano is called
yellowtail. It has somewhat oily flesh and a firm texture.
Red snapper: An excellent all-purpose fish and
one of the few fillets firm enough to be grilled.
Salmon: Much of the salmon in our markets is
farm-raised, even when labeled "Atlantic" or "Norwegian".
Wild salmon: such as coho, king, and sockeye, has
superior flavor but is available in limited quantities.
Sole: A flatfish with firm white flesh and a distinctively
Striped bass: Most striped bass in today’s markets
is a farm-raised hybrid of striped bass and white bass.
Swordfish: A fish with a firm and meaty texture
that is a good choice for broiling and grilling.
Trout: Rainbow trout and brook trout are about
12 ounces each and serve one person.
Tuna: A huge fish with plenty of muscle and flavor.
The most common varieties are bluefin, yellowfin, albacore,
and skipjack. Tuna is also known as ahi and bonito.
Mussels: Most markets carry blue mussels, which
have bluish black shells and are harvested wild or cultivated.
New Zealand green mussels are slightly larger and
have a bright green shell.
Oysters: Oysters are usually named for the location
of their beds: Wellfleet, Chincoteague, and Apalachicola
on the East Coast and Westcott Bay, Tomales Bay, and the
tiny Olympia on the West Coast are examples.
Scallops: Sea scallops are gathered year round and
are relatively large. Small bay scallops are only available
in the fall and winter. Calico scallops are very small, but
they have the least flavor and the toughest texture.
Squid: Also called calamari, many fish markets sell
it already cleaned.
Crustaceans have elongated bodies that are covered by
Crab: On the West Coast, there is Dungeness crab,
whose season runs from October to April. King crab,
usually from Alaska, provides the large legs that are
sold fresh or frozen. Small blue crabs are found along
the East and Gulf Coasts. The large pieces of meat
from the body are sold as lump, jumbo, or backfin
Soft-shell crabs: Blue crabs caught during the short
period after they have shed their hard shells and before
their new, soft shells have hardened. They are available
fresh from May to September.
Stone crabs: Popular in Florida, the claws are harvested,
and the rest of the crab is tossed back into the
water so new claws can regenerate.
Lobster: There are two types: American (Maine)
lobster, from the North Atlantic coast, and rock (spiny)
lobster, which is harvested off Florida, California,
Australia, and New Zealand. It is usually sold as frozen
Shrimp: More than 95 percent of the shrimp sold
has been previously frozen. Warm-water shrimp live in
tropical waters and are usually categorized by the color
of their shell: pink, white, blue, or black tiger.
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