Return to Previous Page

Fish Glossary

Fish Glossary
Anchovy
This small, strong-tasting, oily saltwater fish is generally sold as fillets, either packed in salt or canned in oil.

Bluefish
A rich-tasting, oily-fleshed saltwater fish found in Atlantic waters, bluefish is best cooked by a dry-heat method, such as broiling or grilling.

Carp
The mild taste and moist, meaty texture of this pale-fleshed, slightly oily freshwater fish is best highlighted by moist cooking, such as braising or frying.

Catfish
This fairly firm-textured, white-fleshed freshwater fish can be cooked any way you like: fried, grilled, broiled, steamed, sautéed or braised. Farm-raised catfish will have the mildest flavor.

Cod
Mild tasting, delicate and lean, this white-fleshed saltwater fish takes well to any method except grilling.

Eel
Found in both fresh and saltwater, this long, slithery fish has rich-tasting, meaty, oily flesh that is good when broiled, grilled, braised or stewed. Smoked eel, occasionally found in specialty-food stores, is especially delicious.

Flounder
This family of lean, delicate flatfish requires quick cooking by any method.

Haddock
Haddock is a lean, mild, delicate saltwater fish similar to cod and may be cooked by any method.

Halibut
This mild-flavored, lean, fairly firm-fleshed saltwater fish may be cooked by any method.

Herring
Oily, flavorful and tender, this saltwater fish is usually pickled, although fresh herring may be grilled or broiled.

Mackerel
An oily, flavorful, tender saltwater fish, mackerel is similar to herring and is likewise usually pickled, although the fresh fish may be grilled, broiled or braised.

Monkfish
A white-fleshed saltwater fish, monkfish is sometimes called the "poor man's lobster" because of its meaty texture and mild, sweet flavor. It may be cooked by any method.

Perch
This lean, mild, firm-fleshed freshwater fish may be cooked by any method.

Pike
Mild-tasting and sweet, this very lean, firm-fleshed freshwater fish takes well to any cooking method.

Rockfish
This delicate, mild-flavored, lean saltwater fish takes well to any cooking method except grilling.

Sable
Rich and oily, this saltwater fish is suitable for cooking by any method.

Salmon
A firm, meaty, oily fish, salmon may be poached, baked, roasted, panfried, steamed, broiled or grilled.

Sardines
These small, slender, oily saltwater fish are usually sold in cans. Fresh sardines are excellent cooked by dry heat and are also good for pickling.

Sea Bass
Lean, tender but meaty, this white-fleshed saltwater fish is suitable for cooking by any method.

Shad
An oily freshwater fish with a mild, sweet taste and tender texture, shad is best complemented by dry-heat cooking or sautéing. Shad roe, the delicate egg sac, is a springtime specialty, cooked by brief sautéing.

Shark
This is a family of lean, meaty-textured saltwater fish. Some of the most commonly eaten varieties are the shortfin mako, the black tip and the spiny dogfish. Shark may be cooked by any method.

Smelt
A small, slender, oily saltwater fish, smelt has a tender texture and mild, sweet flavor. It is best quickly cooked by dry heat. In its smallest form, smelt is also known as whitebait, which is fried and eaten whole.

Snapper
This is a family of tender but firm, lean, mild saltwater fish. Red snapper and yellowtail snapper are the most popular varieties. Snapper may be cooked by any method.

Sole
A family of lean, delicate ocean flatfish, sole includes several common varieties: Dover, lemon, petrale and rex. Sole may be cooked by any method, but only briefly.

Sturgeon
A very firm-textured, oily, rich-tasting saltwater or freshwater fish, sturgeon may be cooked by any method.

Swordfish
Firm-textured, somewhat oily and rich-tasting, this white-fleshed ocean fish may be cooked by any method.

Trout
This delicate, somewhat oily freshwater fish may be cooked by dry heat. It is excellent when smoked.

Tuna
Meaty, flavorful and oily, this saltwater fish is good cooked by any method and is excellent raw as sashimi or sushi. It is also commonly available canned.

Turbot
A mild, tender white-fleshed saltwater flatfish, turbot can be cooked by dry or moist-heat methods.

Whitefish
This oily, tender and flavorful freshwater fish can be cooked by any method. It is a favorite smoked fish.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion, (Time-Life Books, 2000).