How to Cook Fish and Seafood - Recipes and Information
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Glossary of Terms for Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans and other Cooking Ingredients & Methods


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Bacalao - Most salt cod comes from Norway. When choosing look for white flesh and black skin - yellowing flesh denotes age. To use the fish needs to be soaked for 24-48 hours, frequently changing the water, to remove most of the salt. It is then ready to be poached - never boil salt cod otherwise it will go stringy. Popular in Spain, the fish is often cooked with chilli and red pepper. Try adding to soups as part of the seasoning as well as being fish.

 

Barracouta - (Thyrsttes) Also known as Snoek. Average length 60-90 cm, average weight 1-3 kg. Very widely distributed in temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere, found around New Zealand and the southern coasts of Australia, South Africa and South America. Not related to the tropical barracudas. Dark blue back, silver sides and belly, and smooth skin. Can be distinguished from the related gemfish by a single lateral line. Caught mainly by trawling, and available all year round. Darkish flesh of medium moisture and medium to low fat content. Whitens on cooking. Long bones with an irregular bone structure. Often canned, which softens the bones and makes them edible. Very suitable for smoking.

 

Barracuda - A pike-like sea fish with long pointed jaws filled with razor-sharp teeth. It is a firm-textured fish with moderate fat content. The type most commonly found in the U.S. is the Pacific barracuda (also called the California barracuda).

 

Barnacle - A crustacean that forms calcareous (containing calcium or limestone) shells. Barnacles attach themselves to submerged surfaces—both natural such as rocks, whales and large fish, and man-made such as ships, wharves, and pilings. The two most important barnacles for for eating are the acorn and gooseneck barnacles, also known as stalked or goose barnacles. They are particularly popular in Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan coastal cuisines as where they are quite plentiful. An uncommon item in the U.S., they can be found in some specialty and online fish markets. They tend to be gritty and need a thorough rinsing prior to a quick boiling or steaming. The flavor tends towards other crustaceans—shrimp, crab or lobster. They are eaten by pealing of the outer skin, and biting off the neck. Watch for a spurt of orange liquid when peeling.

 

 

Basket Shrimp - Small undeveined, breaded shrimp ranging in size from 40 to over 100-count per pound. Also called "mini-shrimp" or "mini-rounds." batter – A mixture of dry ingredients (such as flours or starches) and water in a ratio suitable for coating.

 

Bass - Also known as sea perch, bass is a term that refers to numerous and often unrelated freshwater and saltwater fish. True basses include groupers, black sea bass, and the striped bass. Largemouth, redeye, rock, smallmouth and the spotted bass, are actually sunfish.

 

Battered: Product covered in liquid mixture, usually egg and flour.  This is usually partly cooked (pre-cooked) to set the batter in place before freezing.

 

Belly Burn: A condition where the rib bones protrude into the belly cavity. It usually indicates soft flesh, and shows that the fish was not totally fresh when processed or not properly eviscerated.

 

Belly-Fish: This large low-fat, firm-textured salt-water fish has a mild, sweet flavor that compares with lobster. Sometimes referred to as "poor man's lobster." Also called "angler fish," "monkfish," and "goosefish."

 

Berry - A term used for the fertilised eggs of crustaceans, such as rock lobsters, when they are carried in a cluster beneath the body.

 

Bigeye - The fat tuna, known as mebachi to the Japanese, this cousin of the bluefin is becoming more popular as the number of bluefin decrease.

 

Billfishes - Any of various fishes of the family Istiophoridae, such as a marlin or sailfish, having an elongated, sword-like or spear-like snout and upper jaw. Any of various other fishes having long, pointed jaws.

 

Bisque - a rich spicy soup containing lobster, shrimp or other seafood.

 

Bites/Bits: Small pieces of fish breaded or coated with batter,  weighing less than 1 oz. each. Shape may be round, square, or irregular. May  be cut from regular blocks or blocks of minced fish. Also called cubes,  nuggets, petites, tidbits. Generally sold by count, 25-35 per lb.

 

Bivalve - Any mollusk that has two shells hinged together by a strong muscle, such as a clam, oyster, cockle, or mussel. They are important around the world and in many diverse cuisines. Some can be eaten raw, most must be cooked.

 

Black Cod - This saltwater fish, which is not a true cod, has a soft textured flesh and a mild flavor. Its high fat content makes it a good fish for smoking. Also called "sablefish."

 

Black Oreo Dory - (Allocyttus niger) Average length 30-40 cm, average weight 1kg. Known only from New Zealand at present although similar species are found in Australia and South Africa. Despite the name of black dory it is not a member of the family Zeidae (true dories) but belongs to a closely related family. Dark body, black fins and rough scales which cannot be dislodged. The related spiky oreo dory can be distinguished by its lighter coloured grey body, dark grey fins, and scales which can be dislodged under pressure. Occurs around the south of New Zealand 600 into over 1000 in. The most commonly caught oreo dory in New Zealand waters: taken by deepsea trawling. Available all year. Small fillets which are firm and turn off white when cooked. Does not flake easily, holds together on cooking. Higher oil content than smooth oreo dory.

 

Black Spot - A darkening between a shrimp shell and the tail muscle; it develops as the product deteriorates. It is more properly known as melanosis. Bisulfite (sodium bisulfite) Also called shrimp dip and shrimp powder. Used mostly by shrimp trawlers to prevent melanosis, or black spot.

 

Blacken - to sear fish or seafood in a cast iron frying pan or grill with  high heat. The item is usually heavily coated with a blackening seasoning  and typically cooked rare in the center.

 

Blackfish: A lean, delicately flavored Pacific Ocean fish that is popular in Chinese cookery. Also called "Black Trout" and "Chinese Steelhead."

 

Blast Freezing - Freezing by circulating cold air over batched product placed in trays or racks. Continuous operations are available with rotating belts or spiral screens.

 

Bleeding: Method in which fishermen remove blood from fish by cutting  an artery. Large meaty fish like tuna are routinely bled before further processing. Skates and sharks are also bled to remove uric acid.

 

Block: Frozen fish blocks are rectangular or other uniformly-shaped masses of cohering fish fillets or a mixture of fillets and minced fish flesh, or entirely minced fish flesh. These blocks usually range in weight from 13 to 16 lbs. and are intended for further processing into fish sticks and portions. Larger blocks may be available that contain whole dressed fish for subsequent thawing, processing or resale.

 

Blocklisting - A procedure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that requires automatic detention of imported products and 100 percent approval by the FDA before distribution in the United States.

 

Blue Cod - (Parapercis colias) Average length 30-40 cm, average weight 1-3 kg, although fish up to 45 cm long and weighing 2.5 kg are common. Blue cod is a sand perch and not a true cod. Restricted to New Zealand but there are similar species elsewhere in the Pacific. Greenish-blue to blue-black above, with more brownish sides, and with moderate scales. Occurs in rocky areas throughout New Zealand coastal waters but most common in the colder waters of southern New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, to depths of 150 metres. Caught mainly by potting, sometimes by handlining. Available all year round, but landings peak during the winter months and fall off substantially over the summer. White flesh suitable for most methods of cooking. Produces an excellent smoked product.

 

Blue Crab: Named after its blue claws and dark blue-green shell, this crab is found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It is sold in both its soft and hard-shell stages. The "soft-shell crab" is simply a blue crab caught just after molting.

 

Blue Mackerel - (Scomber australasicus) Average length 30 -40cm, average weight 1.5 kg. Widely distributed in temperate waters of the Pacific Ocean. Blue green above with a pattern of dark oblique wavy lines. Sides and belly silvery white with rows of dark spots along sides under the lateral line. The two dorsal fins are widely separated. Widespread around the North Island and northern South Island of New Zealand. Present, often in considerable abundance, throughout the year. Pelagic. Caught by purse seine. Flesh dark, forms medium flakes. High fat content. Makes excellent canned product and is traded internationally in this form.

 

Blue Moki - (Latridopsis ciliaris). Average size 55-70 cm weighing 2-3 kg, but can grow up to 10 kg. Occurs around New Zealand and southern Australia. Blue moki has a deep compressed body, moderate sized head and mouth with thick fleshy lips, small paired fins. Large scales. Blue-grey above, with several dark bands, silver-grey on flanks, white below. Distributed all around New Zealand but most common around the South Island, and from Cape Runaway to Hawkes Bay to depths of 100 m. Taken mainly by trawling and set nets. Caught all year round. A small resource, perhaps yielding 1000 tonnes per annum. Of related species occurring in New Zealand, trumpeter is a very small commercial resource, and copper moki is uncommon. The red moki, in the related family Cheilodactylidae, is common but threatened because it is a very slow growing species. Flesh firm, suitable for most methods of cooking.

 

Blue Warehou - (SerioIeIIa brama). Average length 40-60cm, average weight 4 kg. Occurs around southern New Zealand and southern Australia. Dark blueish-green above and white below, with a dark head and a prominent dark pectoral spot; small scales. Distinguished from the other warehous by a long pectoral fin reaching back to the anal fin. Most common in the cooler coastal waters around the South Island in 20-200m; the shallowest occurring warehou. Main fishing grounds include the Cook Strait coasts and off Westland. Caught mainly by trawling, sometimes in coastal set nets. Available all year round. A moderate resource. Flesh medium colour, medium to low fat content, medium texture. Whitens on cooking. Suitable for most cooking methods.

 

Bluefin Tuna: The best and among the largest of tuna, the bluefin can weigh over 1,000 pounds. As bluefin age, their flesh turns from light to dark red and takes on a stronger flavor. It is now considered the finest of all fish that can be served raw as sushi and sashimi. Its numbers are now declining dangerously as it is much sought after.

 

Bluefish: A fatty, fine-textured fish that is also known as "bulldog of the ocean" because of its tenacity. Found in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Discard the dark oily strip that runs down its center to prevent a strong, fishy flavor.

 

Bluegill: One of a large number of North American freshwater fish closely related to the perch. Known for their bright, sunny colors, bluegill are also known as "sunfish."

 

Bluenose - (Hyperoglyphe Antarctica). Average length 60-80 cm, average weight 6kg but ranging from 3-20kg. Occurs around New Zealand and southern Australia. Dark blue-grey or brownish-grey above, paler to silver on sides and belly; small scales. Distinguished from the groper by a laterally compressed body, a larger eye set lower on head, and a blunt snout. Distinguished from the related warehou species by a larger mouth, more prominent first dorsal fin, and obvious scales. Bluenose occur around New Zealand, and are most common over or near rocky areas, 100-300 m. Caught by longline and as a trawl by-catch. A moderate resource. The related rudderfish is more elongated, brown-black, average size 50-80 cm; is widespread but not abundant offshore, 300-700 m, and comprises a small by-catch of deepwater trawlers. Flesh firm textured, medium coloured, whitens on cooking. Moist and succulent, similar to groper.

 

Bombay duck: A small, semi-transparent fish that is found in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of India. They can be eaten fresh, but more commonly, they are sun-dried and often have asafoetida added to them. Also known as bumalo or bummalow it has a very strong and salted fish taste. It will keep a long time, providing it is kept dry and is usually eaten having been grilled, baked or shallow fried until crispy and then be crumbled over rice and curries, and is sometimes served as a starter or cocktail snack.

 

Boned/Boneless: Term used by packer to indicate that product has been processed to remove backbone and rib bones.: Term used by packer to indicate that product has been processed to remove backbone and rib bones.

 

Bonito: Sort of half way between a mackerel and a tuna, bonito is the smallest of the tuna family, rarely weighing over 25 pounds. They range from moderate to high fat and are the most strongly flavored of the tunas. Many Japanese recipes call for dried bonito ("dashi").

 

Brailing - When fish are concentrated alongside the catching vessel in a purse seine net, a brail or dip net is used to lift them aboard.

 

Breaded: Product covered in liquid dip, bread crumbs and seasonings. The breading forms a jacket within which the product cooks gently. Breading helps to retain moisture in the product during cooking, and also adds contrasting texture and flavor to the product.

 

Bream - More of a catch-all term for any of several freshwater or saltwater fish than a fish species, per se. It’s most close to an alternate term for any fish of the sunfish family, a major North American freshwater fish. But, bream is also loosely used to refer to saltwater fish such as the American porgy, the Japanese sea bream and the French daurade, which are all quite different.

 

Brill - Hard or near impossible to find in the U.S., this is an excellent European saltwater flatfish closely related to the turbot, which it is often mistaken for. Like most flatfish, the brill has a flakey, light flesh that is best broiled, fried, baked, grilled or poached.

 

Brine Freezing: Freezing seafood by soaking in liquid brine. King crab or snow crab is often brine-frozen.

 

Brined - Often referred to as "pickled" or "wet salted." The process of immersing a fish in a solution of food-grade salt and water for a period of time to allow the fish tissue to absorb a quantity of the salt.

 

Broil: to cook an item in the lower section of the oven where heat contacts  the item from above. This method is good for browning the topside of a  fillet or other seafood. Also known as "Grill"

 

Bubble Pack - Packaging in which whole-cooked lobster is frozen in brine and packed in a sealed plastic "bubble" with water. Also called "popsicle" pack.

 

Buffalo Fish: This freshwater fish, which belongs to the sucker family, is similar to carp. It offers a coarse but sweet, low-fat flesh that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.

 

Bullhead: A small, freshwater catfish that usually weighs in at under a pound. Its flesh is lean and mild in flavor.

 

Bummalo: Aka bombay duck - a small, semi-transparent fish that is found in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of India. They can be eaten fresh, but more commonly, they are sun-dried and often have asafoetida added to them. Also known as bumalo or bummalow it has a very strong and salted fish taste. It will keep a long time, providing it is kept dry and is usually eaten having been grilled, baked or shallow fried until crispy and then be crumbled over rice and curries, and is sometimes served as a starter or cocktail snack.

 

Burbot: A freshwater cod with a lean white flesh and a delicate flavor. It is normally poached, baked, broiled or sautéed.

 

Bushel: Unit of measure equal to 8 gallons or 32-quart capacity. Often used to measure quantity of clams, oysters or crabs.

 

Butter Clam - A small, hard-shell clam native to the protected bays and estuaries of the Pacific Northwest. Canada is largest producer with Washington State’s Puget Sound second in importance. Most are caught wild, with a quarter farmed. These sweet clams can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, stewing and frying. See also clam.

 

Butterfish: This small, high-fat fish has a tender texture and a rich, sweet flavor. Found off the coast of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, this fish is also called the "dollarfish," "Pacific pompano," and "pomfret."

 

Butterflied - A fish fillet or shrimp that has been split. A butterfly fillet is cut along both side with the two pieces remaining joined by a piece of skin and flesh. Butterfly shrimp is peeled and deveined with the shell left on the last tail segment.

 

Butterfly Shrimp: Peeled and deveined shrimp with the shell left on the last (tail) segment. Shrimp in this form is often breaded.

 

By-Catch - That part of a fish catch that is incidental to the target species.
 

 

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