An A-Z Guide to Seafood and Fish

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Abalone
Shellfish found in the coastal waters of the United States, should be cooked either very quickly or very slowly. Lends itself to Asian preparations, particularly Japanese.

Anchovy
A staple of Mediterranean cookery, fresh anchovies are simply cooked with olive oil, garlic and lemon. Usually found salted or preserved in oil for use in sauces, salads and meat dishes.

Barracuda
Found mostly in S.E. Asia and Northern Australia, can be fried, steamed or curried. Serve with noodles or steamed greens.

Barramundi
A round fish used to great effect in Australian cooking, very versatile and easy to cook. Snapper would make a suitable alternative.

Bass
Sea Bass, Stone Bass, Black Bass and Striped Bass. From the south coast of Britain to the Bay of Biscay and Chesapeake Bay in the States, whatever the variety it is a wonderful fish. Filleted and cooked skin side down or baked whole in good olive oil, keep it simple.

Blowfish
A notorious fish associated with Japanese food and sudden death! Certain varieties are known as Fugu and are prepared by highly skilled Japanese chefs.

Bream
Red Sea Bream, Black Bream or Porgy as it is known in the US and Daurade in France. Can be baked whole or filleted and poached or grilled.

Brill
Underrated flat fish known as the poor relation to Turbot. Fillet the fish and keep the bones for stock. Do not overcook and serve in a similar way to Sole, Turbot or Halibut.

Carp
A favourite of the Chinese, French and Germans.

Caviar
The salted hard roe of the Sturgeon. Famed equally for its price and exclusivity as well as its taste there are three main types; Beluga, Osetr and Sevruga. Eat it on toast or blinis, nothing else is required.

Char
Native to the North Atlantic, cook it in the same way as Salmon Trout. Best of all, hire a boat on Lake Windermere and cast a fly a unique experience.

Clams

Cod
Excellent coldwater fish in season from June to February. Very versatile, can be steamed, baked, poached or pan fried.

Coley
Also known as Saithe and often used in fish soup. Use as a cheap alternative to Cod and Haddock.

Crab
From Brown to Blue Swimmer, Spider to Snow, whatever the variety they are used in many countries, each with their own signature dish. Try Maryland Crab cakes, Singapore Black Pepper Crab or simple English Potted Crab with toast.

Crawfish
Sometimes known as Rock Lobster and can be cooked in the same way as Lobster although only the tail meat is used.

Crayfish
A freshwater crustacean with a similar body to a Lobster although much smaller. The main ingredient for the classic sauce nantua with Sole and Salmon

Dab
Small, flat fish similar to Plaice. Cook them whole and serve with herb butter or deep fry and serve with Asian vegetables, ginger and chilli.

Eel - Elver
Unlike other fish, Eels migrate from freshwater to spawn in the Sargasso Sea. Try smoked eel with a simple salad of chicory, lardoons of bacon and croutons.

Flounder
Also known as Fluke, a flat fish with little appeal.

Grouper
A warm water fish also known as Coral Trout. Firm textured flesh which is suitable for recipes using Snapper.

Gurnard
An essential in fish soups, there are three types; Red, Grey and Yellow which are found in the Mediterranean and around the British Isles.

Haddock
A member of the Cod family, they are wonderful when naturally smoked, particularly the Scottish Finnan. Smaller than Cod and less flaky, cook the fillets whole.

Hake
Much underrated in the UK but widely used by the Spanish and Portugese, try it cooked in wine with tomatoes, saffron and oregano.

Halibut
Excellent quality flat fish that grows to a huge size, wild Halibut are available May to March. Poach in white wine with mushrooms or mussels, do not overcook as it has a tendency for dryness.

Herring
Found across the North Atlantic, suitable for pickling or frying in oatmeal as Scottish recipes recommend. Kippers can be poached in bay scented milk or cooked in butter.

John Dory
Also known as St.Pierre, an unusually large head means the fish is best filleted. Although the ratio of flesh to bone is quite poor it is, nonetheless delicious.

Langoustines
Also known as Dublin Bay Prawns and Norwegian Lobster. Forget Scampi, just cook them as part of a ‘fruit de mer’ and serve with lemon mayonnaise or tossed with tagliatelle, good olive oil, garlic and basil.

Lobster
For many the epitome of luxurious eating, Native Lobsters are found in the coastal waters around the UK with the season running from April to November. Stick with classic recipes such as Americaine and Thermidor then use the shells for stock, soup or a rich and bright coloured oil to use for dressings.

Mackerel
Silver-blue skin, rich in Omega-3 and taste it works well with piquant flavours-try it with beetroot, vinaigrette or slow cooked onions. Very good pickled with onions and lemon rind.

Monkfish
An unattractive specimen, its head accounts for half its body weight but the meaty flesh is great for cooking with. Monkfish can withstand strong flavours such as garlic, chilli, saffron, rosemary and oregano.

Mullet
Red Mullet is best in the summer months and cooked with the flavours of the Mediterranean. Take the scales off carefully then bake them whole with some fennel, lemon and olive oil. Grey Mullet from the Cornish coast is best during late summer and early autumn.

Mussels
Steamed open with wine and garlic or Asian flavours, mussels make a wonderful starter or light main course. Rope grown mussels tend to be meatier and cleaner than dredged ones, remove the beard and cook very simply and quickly-eat at once. New Zealand Greenlip Mussels are larger and suitable for baking or steaming.

Octopus
Octopus benefits from being cooked either very quickly or very slowly. Unless you have some large rocks to beat it against like the Greeks try dipping it in boiling stock then shocking it in iced water three times before gently braising in wine, olive oil and tomato.

Oysters
Native Oysters are generally regarded as the best with the season running from September to April. Try them raw with lemon juice, a little cayenne pepper, finely chopped shallots and a glass of dry white to wash them down.

Pilchards
Pilchards and Sardines are one of the same with the latter being smaller and younger. Found off the South Coast and the Mediterranean.


Plaice
Covered in orange spots (the brighter, the fresher) it lacks the quality of Soles and is best eaten as fresh as possible as the flavour tends to fade with age.

Pollack
A relative of the Coley, recipes for Cod can be used although it is better suited to a ragout due to its average taste.

Prawn
Usually sold frozen, as they are difficult to buy fresh in the UK. Many types and sizes from the small Greenland to the large Tigers of South East Asia.

Salmon
With ever decreasing stocks of wild Salmon the growth in the farmed variety has increased sales and made Salmon more accessible. There is a tendency to overcook Salmon, serve it on the rare side or try curing a piece for a later date.

Salmon Trout
Basically a Brown Trout that swims in the sea rather than the river. An excellent tasting fish that does not dry out as Salmon can when cooked.

Sardines
See Pilchards

Scallops
Buy ‘unsoaked’or ‘dry’ scallops as they are far superior. The soaking and freezing of scallops increases weight and decreases quality-why add water? Scallops are like sponges and lose their glorious taste through this process. Cook very quickly and serve rare, at their best from March to November.

Scampi
See Langoustines

Shark
Usually sold in steaks, smell them before buying; an ammonia smell should be avoided. Great in strong curries or simply fried in breadcrumbs with fresh lemon and a few capers.

Skate
A great fish, poach it in a well-flavoured fish stock, grill, bake or pan fry it-just keep it simple. Some nut-brown butter or olive oil, some anchovies and capers and a dredging of fresh lemon. Throw in some roughly chopped herbs, parsley, rosemary, basil or marjoram.

Snapper

Sole
Dover, lemon, Torbay- all delicious. Dover Sole reigns supreme; they have a narrower body than a Lemon with a rougher skin, which can be pulled away from the body in one piece. Cook Dover Sole on the bone and in the simplest way possible.

Squid - Calamari
A cephalopod, Squid has many uses and is delicious quickly cooked with Asian or Mediterranean flavours. Lightly score the flesh before cutting it to its required size.

Swordfish
Very meaty fish, can be cooked rare or, as for Shark in Asian preparations. Buy fresh when possible.

Trout
Rainbow Trout, Brown, Golden and Sea Trout along with Char make up the Trout family. Trout can be cooked whole or filleted and are very good smoked. Farmed all year round the season for wild Trout runs from May to November.

Tuna
Of the five varieties Bluefin is the best followed by Yellowfin. Tuna should always be cooked as rare as possible. An excellent meaty fish which is perfect for salads and Mediterranean flavours.

Turbot
A wonderful flat fish in season from April to February. Simply grilled with hollandaise sauce and some fresh asparagus is the way to go. Keep the bones to make a great fish stock.

Whitebait
These are the small fry of Sprats and Herrings and are rarely found fresh. They should be eaten whole tossed in flour seasoned with cayenne pepper then deep fried. Serve with a big wedge of lemon and eat at once.

Whiting
A member of the Cod family and quite small in comparison. A nice fish which needs more exposure in cookery books and restaurants.

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