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Glossary of Terms for Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans and other Cooking Ingredients & Methods

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C&F: Shipping term for cost and freight. When quoted, a C&F price means price delivered.


C&P - Cooked and peeled shrimp. Can be deveined as well.


Cakes - or fritters, dumplings. A mixture of flour or meal; one or more seafood components and other ingredients such as vegetables and seasonings in a batter that is sautéed, fried or baked.


Calamari - This ten-armed cephalopod, commonly known as "squid," is related to the octopus. They vary in size from 1 inch to 80 feet in length. The meat is firm and chewy, with a somewhat sweet flavor. Over-cooking can lead to a rubbery texture. Called by its Italian name, calamari, this cephalopod has ten arms and is related to both the octopus and cuttlefish. Squid are mollusks, just like clams, mussels and oysters. The difference is squid have an internal shell, which is called a pen. Squid can usually be found from 2 to 3 inches long up to 10 inches. Although almost a hundred species of squid are fished commercially, two species, the Japanese flying squid and the Argentine shortfin squid account for over half the world harvest. Squid is the second most widely consumed shellfish in the world but is more popular in Asian and Mediterranean cuisines than in U.S., with the exception of fried calamari, a staple appetizer at many restaurants, and in sushi. As with octopus, the the ink can be used to color or flavor dishes such as Black Pasta or Calamares en su Tinta (“squid in their ink”).


Calico Bass - One of a large number of North American freshwater fish closely related to the perch. Known for their bright, sunny colors, calico bass are also known as "sunfish."


California Sheepshead - A saltwater fish belonging to the wrasse family. Also called "sheepshead," "fathead," and "redhead." Its meat is white, tender, and lean.


Candlefish - A rich and oily mild-flavored fish. This variety of smelt is so named because Indians sometimes run a wick through their high-fat flesh and use them for candles. Also known as the "Eulachon."


Candling - A process by which fillets are placed on a backlighted, translucent table that reveals the presence of parasites in the flesh.


Carapace - The upper outer skeleton, excluding the tail, of crustaceans such as the rock lobster.


Cardinal Fish - (Epigonus telescopus). This dark-coloured deepwater species contrasts with the more common shallow water and bright red (hence the name) cardinal fishes of tropical and subtropical seas. Average length 40-70 cm. Dark brown, with large, loose scales. Present in deep oceans in many parts of the world. ‘Widely distributed around NZ, apparently most common off the east coast of the North Island, in 300-800 m. Sometimes trawled on shallow parts of some orange roughy grounds, or while fishing for alfonsino near pinnacles. Probably only a small resource. Flesh has a darker layer immediately under the skin and a darker strip running along the center of the fillet. This darker meat is easily removed by deep skinning and trimming. The fillets are meaty, range from 2-4cm thick and whiten when they are cooked. Cooked fillets are moist and readily separate into substantial flakes.



Carp - This freshwater fish ranges from 2 to 7 pounds and has a lean white flesh. It is the primary ingredient for the Jewish dish called "gefilte fish."


Catch Weight - Some species with large fillets, like grouper, are sold as catch-weight fillets. For example, if you order a 10-pound fillet, what arrives could range from 9 1/2 to 11 pounds. Suppliers do not want to cut up a natural, 11-pound fillet and have small pieces left over.


Catfish - This fish is firm, low in fat, and has a mild flavor. Most catfish are fresh water varieties, but there is a salt water variety that called the "hogfish." The channel catfish is considered the best for eating.


Caviar - Sturgeon eggs which have been preserved in salt. Caviar comes in many grades and types and must be transported and held fresh at temperatures between 25F and 30F. (See Roe)


Cello Wraps - Fillets wrapped together in cellophane or polyethylene film. Each wrap is usually labeled with the type of fish, the packer and the brand. Six polywraps per 5-lb. box is standard.


Center Cut - The center third of a fillet.


Center Section - A larger section (thicker than a steak) taken from the center 1/3 of the body.


Cephalopod - The most developed class of mollusk. Culinarily, it includes the octopus, cuttlefish, and squid. Cephalopods have advanced beyond the need for an external shell, and all share share two major characteristics—tentacles attached to the head (hence the name “head-foot” in Latin), and ink sacs. These sacs are used to evade predators; commercially the ink is used to color pasta, among other things, black. Other than fried or grilled calamari (squid), they have never been widely accepted in the U.S. outside of Asian cuisines. In many southern European and Asian cuisines, they are quite popular.


Ceviche - also spelled cebiche or seviche is a form of citrus marinated  seafood salad. Ceviche originated in Peru.


Chikuwa - A variety of Japanese fish paste cake.


Chill Killed - A process employed in the harvest of aquacultured species whereby the temperature of the pond is lowered until the fish die.


Chill Packed - A packing method in which fish are packed in cartons with gel packs and no ice.


Chilled - The result of a process in which fish is thoroughly cooled to a temperature approaching that of melting ice.


Chimaeras - A group of fishes with cartilaginous skeletons closely related to the Elasmobranchs (q.v.) which includes the elephant fish and the ghost sharks.


Chinook Salmon - Considered the finest Pacific salmon. This high-fat, soft textured fish can reach up to 120 pounds. Also called the "king salmon."


CHOSO - cooked head on shell on (in reference to shrimp or prawns)


Chowder - a rich soup using seafood, vegetables and either a tomato based or  dairy based broth.


Chub - One of the most prized whitefish found in the Great Lakes and in Canada. May be prepared in any manner suitable for salmon. Also called "Lake Herring" and "Cisco."


Chum Salmon - This, the smallest and most delicate flavored of the salmons, has the lightest color and the lowest fat content of the various salmon varieties. Also called the "dog salmon". The meat is high in Omega 3 oil.


Chunks - Cross-sections of large dressed fish, having a cross-section of backbone as the only bone. They are similar to a beef or pork roast and are ready for cooking.


Ciguatera - An illness caused by eating the toxic flesh of fish caught in tropical and island waters. A neurotoxin found in certain types of reef fish. The toxin accumulates in the flesh as a result of eating some forms of algae, or preying on fish that eat the algae. An area-specific, not species-specific problem, the toxin is believed to originate in microscopic algae that the fish eat. The fish most commonly implicated are amberjack, snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, barracuda and reef fish of the Carrangidae (jack) family.


Cisco - One of the most prized whitefish found in the Great Lakes and in Canada. May be prepared in any manner suitable for salmon. Also called "lake herring" and "chub."


Clam - These bivalve mollusks come in two varieties. Hard-shell clams include littleneck, cherrystone, and chowder clams. The soft-shelled clams, such as steamer, razor, and geoduck clams, have thin brittle shells that can't completely close. Clams tend to be a bit fishier and stronger than oysters in flavor. Steaming and baking are the most common ways of cooking. All clams need to be cooked gently, else they toughen. Clam trivia: Eastern Native Americans used parts of the shell from hardshell calms to make wampum—beads used for barter, among other purposes. Hence our use of wampum as another term for money or cash.


Cleaned Shrimp - Shrimp that has been peeled and washed, a process that removes some or all of the vein but is not thorough enough to warrant the P&D (Peeled & De-veined) label.


Clipper - Denotes high-quality swordfish or mahi mahi, usually caught and frozen at sea.


Cluster - A product form consisting of a group of legs and a claw from one side of a crab, with the connecting shoulder area still attached. Also known as a "section."


Cockle - Any of various small, jumping bivalves with heart-shaped, radially ribbed shells. Most don’t exceed 2 inches across. The rock cockle the best known and most widely used for food. It’s found from the Pacific Northwest to San Francisco, and from large beds off England’s coast. As they burrow into mud or sand, they are typically quite gritty and so must be washed thoroughly. They have always been more popular in Europe than the United States—think linguine with clam sauce, a dish where the meat is less important than the liquid the shells hold. Cockles are very similar to clams. Like clams, they can be eaten either raw or cooked. Many of the cockles sold in the U.S. are flown in live from New Zealand. Cockles from New Zealand’s South Island are larger (15 per pound) than cockles from the North Island (20-25 per pound).


Cocktail Claws - Crab claws with their end caps removed.


Cod - A popular lean, firm, white meat fish from the Pacific and the North Atlantic. "Scrod" is the name for young cod (and haddock) that weight less that 2.5 pounds. "Haddock," "Hake," and "Pollock" are close relatives of the cod.


Coho Salmon - This high-fat variety of salmon provides a firm-textured, pink to orange-red flesh. Also called the "silver salmon". The meat is high in Omega 3 oil.


Colbert - where the backbone and bones are removed leaving the fillets attached to the head usually either Sole or Whiting.


Cold Canning - A process in which shellfish (specifically lobster) meat is cooked, picked out of the shell, packed in cans and frozen without heat-treating. Cold-canned meat must be refrigerated.


Cold Smoked - Fish smoked at low temperatures (around 80¼ F) for 18 hours to several days, producing a moist, delicately flavored product.


Collar - The bones of a fish just behind the gills; they support the pectoral fins. The collar is waste when a fish is steaked or filleted. Most headless fish are sold with the collar on because it protects the fish.


Conch - this term is often applied to species of whelk, caught along the USA  eastern seaboard. Whelk are large mollusks, similar to snails. The meat is  tough but has a distinctive flavor. Whelk or "Conch" meat is popular in  Oriental cuisine for dishes such as sushi. It is also popular in Caribbean  cuisine and is used in chowders and other recipes.


Conger Eel - (Conger verreauxi). Average length 100-150 cm, average weight 3-5 kg. C.verreauxi occurs around New Zealand and southern Australia; C.wilsoni restricted to New Zealand only. Grey to blue-black above, lighter below, but often mottled. Fairly common around rocky coasts of southern North Island and South Island. The northern conger is similar but smaller, average size 70-80cm, and fairly common in northern New Zealand. Both congers are caught incidentally all year round by longliners and trawlers and as a by-catch of rock lobster fishery. A small resource. Other marine eels, less abundant than the congers, but sometimes caught around New Zealand are the moray eels (Lycodontis spp) of northern reefs and the basketwork eel (Diastrobranchus capensis) taken on deep offshore grounds. Flesh white, firm texture, less oily than the flesh of freshwater eels. Does not flake readily on cooking.


Continental Shelf - The outer (seaward) edge of the continental shelf (q.v.) where there is an abrupt descent to deeper water.


Cooking Times - Fish is naturally tender, requiring short cooking times at high temperatures. Allow 10 minutes per inch of thickness (at the thickest part) for fresh fish, 20 minutes per inch for frozen fish.


Coral - The roe (eggs) of a crustacean. It gets its name from the coral-red color it turns when cooked. Roe is often eaten plain, even directly from a lobster or crab, or used in sauce or other preparation such as a butter. A female lobster or crab is often ordered for just this reason. See also Roe


Counts - The number of shrimp per pound in a given package; i.e., 16/20 means each net-weight pound consists of 16 to 20 shrimp. The larger the count, the smaller the shrimp. Scallop meats are also sold by a count per pound.


CPDTO - cooked peeled deveined tail on (in reference to shrimp or prawns)


CPND - cooked peeled deveined (in reference to shrimp or prawns)


CPUD - cooked peeled Un-deveined (in reference to shrimp or prawns)


Crab - Any of a large variety of 10-legged crustaceans (shelled animals). There are freshwater and salt water varieties. It is the second most popular shellfish. (Shrimp is the most popular.)  The major crabs from the Pacific are the Dungeness Crab, the King Crab (also called Alaskan King Crab) from the far North Pacific, and the Snow Crab. King crab is sweet, moist and rich. It is a bit more firm and coarser than Dungeness crab meat. The body meat is slightly flakier than the leg meat. Snow crab meat is sweet and delicate, with more fibrous texture than king crab. The claw meat is more firm than that of the shoulder meat. Some compare the Dungeness crab meat to that of the Maine lobster, say it is more tender. The meat is sweet, flavorful and semi-nutty.


Crabmeat - Seafood packer and processor, canned, fresh and frozen Pasteurized Crabmeat, Blue Swimming Crab, Portunus Pelagicus, Soft Shell Crab, Stuffed Raw Crabmeat, Raw Crabmeat Portion


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


Crayfish - Also called "Crawfish" and "crawdads." Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans that look like tiny lobsters. Crayfish can be prepared in any manner appropriate to a lobster.  They are very popular in France (there called écrevisses, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. Most of the U.S. crayfish come from the Mississippi basin in Louisiana.


Croaker - Any of a variety of fish named for the peculiar drumming or deep croaking noise they make. These fish are firm and low in fat. The croaker family includes the black croaker, black drum, hardhead, kingfish, and redfish.


Croquettes - Patties containing a mixture of breading or breadcrumbs or other binder; usually at least 35% seafood, such as combination of fish and crabmeat. May have all one kind of seafood, such as shrimp or crabmeat, or a combination. Product forms include breaded; pre-cooked or browned; I.Q.F., 2 oz. each, dry-pack.


Cross Contamination - The tainting that can occur when cooked seafoods come into direct or indirect contact with raw seafoods and other raw foods or contaminated surfaces and utensils.


Crustaceans - Shrimp, Crab, Lobsters, crawfish, crayfish and lobsters. Crustaceans are shellfish that have a jointed (segmented) body with pairs of legs on each segment, and a tough exoskeleton. Crustaceans include lobster, Shrimp, Crab, Lobster, and crayfish. Any of various predominantly aquatic arthropods of the class Crustacea, including lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles, characteristically having a segmented body, a chitinous exoskeleton, and paired, jointed limbs.


Cryogenic - Extremely cold freezing process, using liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide, often used to freeze high-value items like shrimp or soft-shell crabs.


Curing - Using salt or sugar to draw moisture from the flesh of fish or other meats to make it unattractive to the growth of spoilage bacteria. Curing was widely used as a preservation method before the advent of modern refrigeration techniques. Today, curing is used to give a pleasing flavor to fish and refrigeration is recommended to preserve this product from spoilage.


Cusk - A large saltwater fish related to the cod. It has a firm, lean flesh. Also called "tusk" or "torsk."


Custom Cut - Irregularly-shaped triangle cut from a block of frozen fish. Usually breaded/battered.


Cuttlefish - A relative of the squid and octopus, the cuttlefish has ten arms that can reach up to 16 inches in length. "Sarume," which is available in ethnic stores, is cuttlefish that has been seasoned and roasted.


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