Golden Pompano 12h Varieties of Fish

Here are listed both fresh water and salt water fish because the two can't be cleanly separated. Many fish move to salt water to mature and come back to fresh water to spawn and others are found both in salt and fresh water.

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General & History

The varieties listed here are either of wide culinary interest or marketed in Southern California. Primary names are consistent with names used in the fish markets when correct, and with Fishbase when wrong. While you may not find your exact fish on this page, if you find the right family, cooking properties are probably similar. If you want more fish, Fishbase (F2) lists over 32,800 varieties under over 303,000 common names - but they provide no culinary information.

Please consider the IUCN Red List status when buying fish. In order of rising concern: LC = Least Concern, NT = Near Threatened, VU = Vulnerable, EN = Endangered, CR = Critically Endangered, EW = Extinct in the Wild, EX = Extinct. In addition there are DD = Data Deficient and NE = Not Evaluated. The Monterey Bay Aquarium ratings are more complex, rating not only the sustainability of the species, but also the fishery's effect on other species as bycatch.

Click on pictures for larger version and cooking info

Anchovy - [family Engraulidae]
Anchovy 04d A family of tiny fish that swim in large schools in temperate seas worldwide. They are very important to the fish food chain and also for production of fermented fish sauce, as essential to the cuisines of Southeast Asia as it was to Imperial Romans. The Anchovy Family now has its own page.

Blue Anchovy California Anchovy European Anchovy Peruvian Anchovy White Anchovy Goldspotted Grenadier Japanese Grenadier

Bangus - See Milkfish.

Barracuda   -   [Sphyraenus species]
Whole Barracuda

This very elongated fish is a fearsome predator with strong jaws and sharp teeth, but very rarely attacks swimmers. It is found mostly in tropical and subtropical seas. The photo is of a Pacific Barracuda (Sphyraena argentea) 42-1/2 inches long and weighing 8-1/3 pounds. This fish is found from Alaska to the southern tip of Baja California. Mexico, but is rare north of Point Conception in Southern California, It can grow to almost 60 inches and 26 pounds, but the Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) can get up to 72 inches and 100 pounds.
Caution:   Barracuda can be highly toxic in tropical reef areas like Florida, the Indian Ocean, Hawaii and northern Australia. Pacific Barracuda (S. argentea) is generally safe.   Details and Cooking

Basa   -   See Vietnamese Catfish.

Striped Bass 13d

"Bass" is a popular name applied to many fish that aren't really bass, but people call them "Bass" anyway, particularly the Black Bass (Smallmouth and Largemouth) which are actually Sunfish. Shown here are the real bass (even though one of them is called "Perch"), with links to some of the "not actually a bass" fish. The Bass Family now has its own page.

Sand Bass Striped Bass White Bass White Perch

Belt Fish   -   [Largehead Hairtail (FishBase), Ribbonfish, Cutlassfish, Scabbardfish; Kalchi (Korea, lit. "Sword fish"); Tachiuo (Japan, lit. "Sword fish"); Peixe-espada (Brazil, Portugal, lit. "Sword fish"); Trichiurus lepturus]
Beltfish 15f

This fish is found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, usually not far from the coast. It can grow to over 7-1/2 feet long and 11 pounds, but the photo specimen was a mere 34-1/2 inches long, weighing 1 pound 3/4 ounce. This is a highly commercial fish, primarily for Asian markets, so it is very common here in Los Angeles, but it is also popular in Brazil, Portugal, Italy and Pakistan. Beltfish have no scales and make no effort whatever to be kosher.   Details and Cooking.

Bigeye   -   [Bullseye, Glasseye, family Priacanthidae (Bigeyes or catalufas)]
Purple-spotted Bigeye 03d

Bigeyes are a family of small tropical fish found all around the world, but most are concentrated in the Indo-West Pacific region, particularly in Indonesian waters. The photo specimen was labeled "Big Eye Snapper" in a large Asian market in Los Angeles, but I have identified it as Purple-Spotted Bigeye (Priacanthus tayenus). It can grow to almost 14 inches but the photo specimen was 7-1/2 inches (not counting a thread extending from the tail) and weighed 3.5 ounces.   Details and Cooking

Bighead   -   see Carp.

Blue Runner   -   see Jacks.

Bluefish   -   [Pomatomus saltatrix]
Bluefish 02e This fish which is found just about everywhere except in the Pacific Ocean can grow to 51 inches and 31 pounds but the photo specimen was 16-1/4 inches and weighed 1.5 pounds. Considered a good eating fish it's highly commercial and now being farmed.   Details and Cooking.

Bonefish   -   [Albula vulpes]
Live Bonefish This fish is found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, but is now thought to actually be 8 species, all of which are visually identical. It is a prized game fish in a number of regions, particularly the Caribbean. It is, however, not a prized eating fish, so once caught, it is usually released. In the Bahamas, however, they are often split in half, spread with a sauce and baked for eating.

Bonito   -   see Tuna.

Bowfin   -   [Choupique (Creole French); Amia calva]
Live Bowfin Fish

This fish is the only surviving species of a line that is sister to the modern fish (Telosts) but retains more features of their common ancestor. It inhabits the etire Mississippi River drainage system and many other rivers and lakes in the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada. It is able to breath air so can live in oxygen poor environments. This fish is most noted for its roe, which is processed and marketed as "Cajun caviar", or under the trade name "Choupiquet Royale". IUCN Red Listed LC (Least Concern).   Photo by Stan Shebs distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported, Attribution Required.

Bream   -   not a useful term - generally describes a moderately deep bodied fish of moderate size but is applied to many completely unrelated fish from a number of families.

  • Seabream   -   see Porgy.
  • Silver Bream and others   -   Carp.

Brill   -   see Turbot.

Bumalo / Bombay Duck   -   See Lizardfish.

Bumper   -   [Pacific Bumper, Yellowtail Bumper, Chloroscombrus orqueta | Atlantic Bumper, Chloroscombrus chrysurus]
Pacific Bumper 03e

This fish is closely related to Scad, but while there are scads of scad there are only two bumpers - Pacific and Atlantic, and even those two may prove to be different varieties of the same species. The photo specimen is a Pacific Bumper . Pacific Bumper can grow to nearly 12 inches but Atlantic Bumper can grow to 25 inches and supports a larger fishery. Pacific Bumper are found in the Eastern Pacific from Los Angeles south to Peru. Atlantic Bumper is found in the West Atlantic from Massachusetts south to Uruguay.   Details and Cooking

Butterfish   -   [family Stromateidae]
Butterfish 02d A family of very deep bodied fish, many of which are called something else and other fish which are not butterfish are called butterfish. see Pompano, Sablefish, Pomfret and others. One is even a Piranha. The ones listed here are real butterfish even though they may be called something else. The Butterfish Family now has its own page.

Pomfret 04c Star Butter 02c

Ca keo   -   See Gobies.

Ca bong cat   -   See Gobies

Carp   -   [Koi (Japanese), family Cyprinidae, order Cypriniformes]
Decorative Carp

The modern Carp family has been around for about 55 million years and the carp order (Cypriniforms) since the Jurrassic 150 million years ago. They are not considered a prime eating fish in the U.S. but are very popular on the menu in Asia and in Europe, particularly Poland.

Coming in many brilliant colors and patterns and happy to live in small freshwater ponds, carp is the primary fish displayed in decorative gardens. Call a fancy carp "Koi" and it can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Unprotected ponds need big submerged pipes for them to sleep in because they are definitely on the menu for raccoons.   The Carp Family now has its own page.

Carp 20c Carp 01c Carp 02c Carp 05c Carp 10c Carp 09c Carp 01c Carp 18c Carp 03c Carp a3c Vobla 02c Rohu 01c Prussian Carp 02c Silver Bream 01c

Catfish   -   [order Siluriformes]
Blue Catfish 01e There are some 2200 species of catfish in as many as 40 families and many genera. The greatest number of species is found Central and South America (including one recently discovered in Mexico that may have been around since dinosaur days). Some catfish are ocean fish but most live in fresh water. Catfish do not have scales but some species are covered with overlapping armor plates. The Catfish Family now has its own page.

Catfish 02c Catfish 14c Catfish 03c Sheetfish 04c Catfish a04c Catfish 01c Catfish a01c Catfish b01c Sheetfish 01c Mystus 02c

Char   -   [Family Salmonidae Genus Salvelinus]
Brook Trout 01d

Char are closely related to Salmon and Trout, and a number of species are popularly called "Trout". Among these are Brook trout (northeastern North America), Bull trout (northwestern North America), Dolly Varden trout (northern California around to Russia), and Lake trout (Alaska, Canada, northeastern U.S. and introduced to northern Europe and Asia). The lake trout is the largest char, growing to just over 100 pounds. The Char Family now has its own page.   Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = public domain

Arctic Char 02c Rotel 01c Brook Trout 02c

China Sole   -   see Vietnamese Catfish.

Chilean Sea Bass - A made-up marketing name for Patagonian Toothfish which is not a bass at all.

Climbing Perch   -   [Anabas testudineus]
Climbing Perch 25e

Not actually a perch, this fish is a member of family Anabantidae (Climbing gouramies - a different family from Gouramies proper). It can grow to over 9 inches but the photo specimen was 5-1/2 inches and weighed 2.3. ounces. Able to tolerate extremely bad water conditions, it's an air breathing fish that can survive for weeks out of the water if it's kept damp. It can't actually climb trees though - individuals found in trees were probably left by birds. Most climbing gourami species live in Africa and are too small to eat, but this large one is found from India to China and considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia. It's both caught wild and farmed.   Details and Cooking

Cobia   -   [Black kingfish, Black salmon, Ling, Lemonfish, Crabeater; Aruan Tasek, Haruan Tasek (Malay); Rachycentron canadum]
Whole Cobia Fish 08d

This excellent eating fish is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, except the mid Pacific and east Pacific - but is now an invasive species on the east Pacific coast. It can grow to about 78 inches and weigh 150 pounds, but is usually around 43 inches long. It is the only species in the only genus of Rachycentridae. There is no fishery for this fish, it is solitary and caught by accident. It is, however, of great interest for aquaculture, with production under way in China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and development under way in several other countries. IUCN Red List status NE (Not Evaluated).   Details and Cooking

Cod, Pollock, Haddock, Hake & Whiting   -   [family Gadidae (Cods and haddocks)]
Codfish 01d

Cod fisheries have been so economically important on both sides of the Atlantic wars have been fought over them. There are many varieties of cod in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific, a number of which are economically important, but there are even more fish called "Cod" that aren't cod at all. The Cod, Pollock, Haddock, Hake & Whiting now have their own page.

Atlantic Cod Pacific Cod Alaska Pollock Haddock European Whiting New England Whiting Pacific Whiting

Croakers & Drums - Corvina   -   [Family Sciaenidae]
Whole Red Drum 07d

Croakers and Drums get their name from sounds they make underwater. Corvina is a Spanish name for many fish in this family, and has been adopted here in California to differentiate between two quite different "Yellow Croakers". The Croaker & Drum Family now has its own page.

Freshwater Drum Yellow Corvina Yellow Croaker Red Drum Smalleye Croaker King Weakfish

Cusk-Eel   -   [Family Ophidiidae - Cusk-eels ]
Shortbeard Cusk-Eel 01e

Cusk-Eels, while somewhat eel shaped, are not true eels and belong to an entirely different order (Ophidiiformes). They never venture into fresh water and can't be expected to be interchangeable with regular eels in recipes. The Cusk-Eel Family now has its own page.

Kingklip 01c Pink Cusk Eel 01c

Dace   -   [Dart, Dare, Leuciscus leuciscus] - See Carp.

Tiny Dried Herrings Various small salted and dried fish importatnt to Philippine cuisine, both as snacks and recipe ingredients. For details see our Daing / Tuyo page.

Dollar Fish   -   see Pompano.

Dolphin (fish)   -   see Mahi-Mahi.

Dorab Wolf Herring   -   [Chirocentrus dorab]
Whole Wolf Herring

This Indo Pacific fish inhabits warmer coastal waters of the Red Sea and East Africa to southern Japan and the north coast of Australia. It is not actually a herring, but fairly closely related to them. It can grow to over 40 inches, but is commonly 24 inches. It has increasingly become a commercial catch, sold fresh, frozen or salted and dried. It is also caught at a very small size, less than 4 inches, for production of Mam Ca Linh fermented fish sauce in Vietnam - the only form I've seen this fish in here in Southern California. IUCN Red Listed DD (Data Deficient).

Dover Sole
Slime Fish 01c There are two fish marketed as Dover Sole, Microstomus pacificus (fishbase: Dover Sole), actally a flounder, and Solea solea (fishbase: Common sole). Woe betide s/he who attempts to use pacificus in a recipe for real sole.

Drum   -   see Croakers & Drums.

Eel   -   [order Anguilliformes families Anguillidae (freshwater), Congridae (saltwater), Muraenidae (Morays), others, and order Synbranchiformes (Swamp Eels)]   -   See also Cusk-Eels.
American Eel 03g

Anguilliforms is a large order of fish that have become very elongated to the point of resembling snakes and worms. While related to other modern ray-finned fish they tend to be rather primitive and a bit simplified. Freshwater eels spawn at sea and die there. Their offspring enter rivers as juveniles and live there until time to spawn. Lacking scales in most cases and scales that can be scraped off without tearing the skin in all cases, eels are not kosher. The Eel Families now have their own page.   Photo by Frieda distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

American Eel 01c European Eel 01c Conger Eel 01c Pike Conger 04c Swamp Eel 33d

Emperor   -   [family Lethrinidae]
A moderate size family of Indo Pacific fish (only one species ventures into the Atlantic, just on the west coast of Central Africa). Most are under 24 inches long and most support at least minor fisheries.

Pink Ear Emperor   -   [Lethrinus lentjan]
Pink Ear Emperor 06e This Indo - West Pacific fish is found from the eastern coast of Africa through the South Pacific islands, and as far north as Taiwan. The most commercial of the Emperors, this fish can grow to 20 inches, but the photo specimen was 15 inches long and weighed 1 pound 10 ounces. This fish tends to olive on the upper body and lighter below, but adopts various other color schemes and patterns. "Pink Ear" comes from the variable size slash of red at the back edge of the gill cover. This fish is IUCN Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated), and is not considered threatened. Important: see Details and Cooking for special notes.

Flathead   -   [Bartail Flathead, Platycephalus indicus]
Flathead 06e Flatheads are a fairly large family of fish but only this one is commercially significant. The Bartail Flathead can grow to 39 inches and 7.7 pounds but the photo specimen was 14-1/2 inches and weighed 11 ounces, the in a package of three frozen in China. This fish is found from the Atlantic coast of southern Africa around through the Indian Ocean all the way to the mid Pacific islands and has been introduced into the eastern Mediterranean. It ranges from from southern Australia north to Korea and Japan and is now also being farmed, particularly in Japan.   Prep & Cooking Details.

Featherback   -   [Clown featherback, Clown knifefish; Pla Grai (Thai); Ca Thac Lac (Viet); Chitala ornata (Mekong).   |   also Chitala chitala (Ganges - disorderly spots)   |   also Chitala lopis (Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo - no spots)]
Whole Featherback 01e

Native to the Mekong Basin, this important food fish is thin, with flesh so tender it's nearly mushy, and so shot full of bones, spines and fin rays it's nearly impossible to eat whole or as fillets. It is, however, the preferred fish for fish cakes, fish balls and some kinds of pickled fish and fish sauce in Thailand and Vietnam. This fish grows up to 39 inches and 11 pounds but the photo specimen was 17-1/2 inches long and weighed 1 pound 6-1/8 ounces.   Details and Cooking.

Flounders / Fluke   -   [families: Achiropsettidae (southern flounders), Bothidae (lefteye flounders), Paralichthyidae (large-tooth flounders), Pleuronectidae (righteye flounders)]
Whole Rex Sole

Flounders include a number of families of fish that have evolved to lie flat on the bottom. Their eyes have moved so both are on the side marked "up". They make their living by blending into the sea bottom, often partially covered with sand, and ambush their prey, but some of them also leave the bottom and hunt like regular fish.

In Europe "Sole" means fish of family Soleidae. In North America the name is applied haphazardly to various flounders that are not members of the Soleidae family - probably because "sole" sounds more European and sophisticated.   Caution:   flounders are very often mislabeled. It usually doesn't matter a lot, but if what you are actually getting is "Dover Sole", it matters a lot. The Flounder Family now has its own page.

Dover Sole Pacific Halibut Petrale Sole Plaice Rex Sole Gray Sole Sanddab Calif. Halibut Fluke Calif. Stary Flounder

Fugu   -   [Pufferfish, Blowfish, Boh-guh (korea), Family Tetraodontidae, usually some species of genus Takifugu (commonly Takifugu rubripes (photo)), Lagocephalus or Sphoeroides but also Diodon]
Live Fugu

A family of fish that puff up to several times their normal size when threatened, common in tropical seas, particularly near reefs. Fugu is considered a great delicacy in Japan (and Korea) where it is extremely expensive and served raw in highly decorative arrangements. It's prepared only by trained and licensed fugu chefs - because the eyes and internals are so toxic one fish can kill 30 people.

Non-toxic fugu can be farm raised because they don't make the poison themselves, they have to consume certain bacteria to do it. Non-toxic fugu has generated little interest - without the risk of death it's just another fish. Puffers have long been eaten in Florida but are now banned taken from some waters due to a different bacterial toxin. Fugu is not considered threatened but is not generally marketed in North America. Details and Cooking   Photo by Chris 73 distuributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike v3.0.

Fusiliers   -   [family Caesionidae]

Whole Fusiliere Fusiliers are generally non-migratory reef fish found in tropical seas. The Fusilier Family now has its own page.

Redbelly Fusilier Twinstripe Fusilier Lunar Fusilier

Galjoen   -   [Dichistius capensis   |   D. multifasciatus (Banded Galjoen)   |   both of family Dichistiidae]
Whole Galjoen

Native to the west coast of South Africa north to Angola, D. capensis can grow to 31 inches and 14 pounds. Found on the east coast of South Africa north to Madagascar, D. multifasciatus grows only to 13-3/4 inches and 3-3/4 pounds, but is prettier with vertical brown stripes. Both are very popular as both commercial and game fish, and D. multifasciatus is being farmed. These fish are found nowhere else, and there are no other fish in family Dichistiidae.   Photo by Frederick Hermanus Van der Bank, University of Johannesburg contributed to the Public Domain.

Goatfish / Red Mullet   -   [Mullet, Red Mullets; family Mullidae]
Indian Goatfish 03d

A family of tropical and temperate marine fish, Goatfish, often called "Mulllet", have always been a very popular eating fish in Western and Mediterranean Europe, but are little known in North America. Confusingly, they are not related to the Mullet family. The Goatfish Family now has its own page.

Red Mullet Indian Goatfish Cinnabar Goatfish Mexican Goatfish

Gobies   -   [family Gobiidae]
Whole Sand Goby Gobies constitute one of the largest fmailies of fish, but are among the smallest fish, most ranging from 3/8 inches to 4 inches, with only a very few giant gobies much over 12 inches. Because of their size, few gobies are food fish, but a number of them are popular aquarium fish. The Goby Family now has its own page.

Sand Goby Marble Goby Spotted Goby Keo Fish Grass Goby Round Goby

Golden Snapper   -   [Redfish (fishbase), Eastern Nannygai, Koarea; Centroberyx affinis]
Whole Golden Snapper

Not actually a snapper, but related to the Squirrelfish / Soldierfish, this fish is found from northern Tasmania north to the central coast of Australia, and also around New Zealand and New Caledonia. It can grow to over 20 inches long and 4 pounds, but is commonly less than 16 inches. The photo specimen, from New Zealand, was 15 inches long and weighed 1 pound 15-1/2 ounces. This fish is not considered threatened, IUCN Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated). It is a commercially exploited fish within its range.   Details and Cooking.

Gouramies   -   [Osphronemidae (Gouramies)]

Whole Snakeskin Gourami Gouramies are a family of generally very small fish (most 1 to 3 inches), most living in Africa, but in Southeast Asia there are a few species of edible size. Many gouramies have a leading ray of the pelvic fins elongated into a tentacle which may extend beyond the tail. The Gourami Family now has its own page.

Giant Gourami Snakeskin Gourami

Graylings   -   [Genus Thymallus]
Drawing of Grayling These fish belong to the Salmon family along with Trout, Char and Whitefish. They inhabit fresh waters in the far north and are easy to tell from trout by their large scales and a very large and showy dorsal fin. The longest and most commercialized (wild and farmed) is the Arctic Grayling (T. arcticus arcticus) which may grow to 30 inches and over 8 pounds. The grayling proper (T. thymallus,) is a European species that may grow to 24 inches and 15 pounds.   Drawing by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = public domain.

Groupers   -   [family Serranidae]
Whole Areolate Grouper A group of ocean fish of the same family as Sea Bass and with very similar in characteristics. The most famous are the Giant and Goliath Groupers which can grow to around 1000 pounds - pretty big bass. All groupers meet kosher requirements but many species are Red Listed as VU (vulnerable) or EN (Endangered). The Grouper Family now has its own page.

Goliath Grouper Areolate Grouper Red Grouper Pink Grouper Strawberry Grouper

Halibut   -   see Flounders, righteye

Herring & Shad   -   [Family Clupeidae, various genera and species]
Whole Atlantic Herring

A family of generally small oily fish of tremendous commercial importance worldwide. Herring can grow to over 18 inches and 1.5 pounds but is generally caught and harvested much smaller. See also Sardine. The Herring Family now has its own page.

Atlantic Herring Amreican Shad Blue Herring Kilka Thread Herring Toli Shad Tunsoy Pickled Herring

Idiot Fish   -   See Rock Fish - Idiot.

Jacks, Amberjacks, Trevally, etc.   -   [family Carangidae, various Genera]
Yellowtail Jack

Common names within family Carangidae are very disorderly, including Jacks, Amberjacks, Pompanos, Trevally, Bumpers and Scads, without clear deliniation as to which are which. This section deals with those most commonly called Jacks and Trevally, which tend to be some of the larger of the Carangidae, without too much regard as to what genus they belong to. The fish don't cooperate either, some change shape significantly as they mature. With 30 genera, this naming mess is impossible to make orderly. for other fish of this family see Pomponos, Scad and Bumpers.

Blue Runner Crevalle Jack Yellowspotted Trevally Yellowtail Japanese Amberjack Queenfish

Silvery John Dory   -   [Zenopsis conchifer]
Whole Silvery John Dory

This fish is not the famous John Dory of European cuisine, though looks a lot like it except for color. Silvery John Dory is native to both sides of the Atlantic, from sub-Arctic down to Argentina and South Africa. It is also found in the Indian Ocean from South Africa around to Indonesia and northwest Australia. It is not found in the Pacific at all. This fish can grow to 31-1/2 inches long and 7 pounds, but the photo specimen was 21 inches long and 3-1/2 pounds, a typical size. Silvery John Dory is IUCN Red Listed NE (Not Evaluated) but is not considered threatened. It has no scales, so is not kosher.

Silvery John Dory is not a good swimer and catches it's prey by sneaking up on it. It then suddenly extends its mouth into a long tunnel and sucks the pray in. It is distinguished by a row of hard bony scutes from under from the head back to the anal spines, and hard bony bucklers, each with a thorn on it, for the full length of the base of the dorsal and anal fins.   Details and Cooking.

Kilka   -   see Herring.

Lapu-Lapu   -   Philippine word for just about any Grouper, along with a few non-groupers.

Lingcod   -   [Ophiodon elongatus]
Whole Lingcod The only representative of genus Ophiodon, the Lingcod is not a cod. It's found on the Pacific coast of North America from Ensenada, Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska and along the Alutian islands. It is considered an excellent eating fish and is a prized by sports fishermen along the Pacific coast of North America. Lingcod can grow to nearly 60 inches and 130 pounds but the photo specimen, purchased at an Asian market in Los Angeles, was 27-3/4 inches and weighed 6.91 pounds.   Details and Cooking.

Lionfish   -   [Red Lionfish; Pterois volitans   |   Common Lionfish, Devil Firefish; Pterois miles]
Live Lionfish

These fish, native to the Indo-West Pacific region, are now serious invasives in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and along the South Atlantic coast of the United States. They very much deserve being eaten, as they eat just about everything else. They are severely degrading the reef ecology of the region, and are threatening important fisheries. They are insatiable eaters, they just don't stop, and many caught for study show distinct signs of obesity. The Red Lionfish is the most common, with the very similar Common Lionfish composing just 7% of the population.   Details and Cooking.

Lizardfish   -   [family Synodontidae]
Whole Lizardfish

These rather strange fish are voracious predators, sometimes swallowing fish 2/3 their own length. Their large mouths have multiple rows of needle sharp teeth, and they even have rows of needle teeth on their tongues. They are mainly ambush predators. Their flesh is strangely soft, almost gelatinous, and their bones are incompletely calcified. The most famous is the Bombay Duck, very popular in India, Southern China and Vietnam, both fresh and dried. The Lizardfish Family now has its own page.

Lizardfish Bombay Duck

Lumpfish   -   [Lumpsucker; Cyclopterus lumpus]
Live Lumpfish

This strange fish, which is highly variable in both shape and color, is native to the North Atlantic, from just south of New Jersey around to the north coast of Spain, and extending north above the Arctic Circle. They are most often dark gray, but males turn bright orange and females blue-green during mating season. The pelvic fins, just below the pectoral fins, are modified into a sucker disk used to attach to rocks and seaweed. Males may grow to 16 inches and females to 24 inches, with a maximum weight of 21 pounds.

While the flesh is eaten in the Nordic countries, fresh or smoked, this fish is most famous for its eggs, which are used to make a less expensive caviar. The eggs may be dyed black to resemble sturgeon caviar, or may be dyed red. IUCN Red Listed NE (Not Evaluated).   Photo by Cephas distributed under licence Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 unported.

Mackerel Family   -   [Seer Fish (India); family Scombridae (Mackerels, tunas, bonitos)]
Atlantic Mackerel 04d

Mackerels are a large family including several genera of economically important fish ranging from a few ounces to nearly 100 pounds. Mackerel are in general oval fish, meaty, oily and strongly flavored. Tuna, which are flatter in shape, are technically mackerel but are treated separately. Fish called "horse mackerel" or "jack mackerel" are not mackerel but related to Jacks and Scads. Mackerel Family now has its own page.

Atlantic Mackerel Indian Mackerel Japanese Mackerel Mackerel Pike Pacific Sierra King Mackerel Spotted Mackerel Smoked Mackerel

Mahi-Mahi   -   [Dolphin, Dolphin-fish, Dorado Coryphaena hippurus]
Whole Fish

This large fish is unrelated to the sea mammal also called "Dolphin" so the Hawaiian name Mahi-Mahi is now widely used to avoid confusion. This fish is found in tropical and subtropical seas the world around, including the deep ociean where few other fish venture. They are a short lived fish and are usually caught at about 20 pounds, though they can grow to 90 pounds. The flesh is firm and fine grained, and generally cut into steaks or fillets. It is often used as a kosher substitute for swordfish, Details and Cooking   Photo by Jeff Weiss (edited) contributed to the Public Domain.

Mandarin Fish   -   See Perch.

Milkfish   -   [Bangus (Philippine), Chanos chanos]

This Indo-Pacific warm water fish is an important food fish in India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, particularly the Philippines. Milkfish are extremely suspicious, strong and very fast so are difficult to catch in the wild but are a major farm fish in many tropical counties. While they can grow to almost 6 feet and over 30 pounds, farmed milkfish is generally marketed at 18 inches and smaller The fish in the photo was 18 inches and 2-1/4 pounds. The milkfish is durable, having survived the Cretaceous extinction that did in the dinosaurs, the ammonites and perhaps 50% of other marine species.   Prep & Cooking Details

Monkfish   -   [Angler, Lophius americanus (North America), Lophius piscatorius (Europe)]

Monkfish is mostly a huge, ugly, inedible, bony head with a small tail sticking out the back side of it. This explains why you'll never see a whole monkfish in the fish market - only the tail is sold. The American Monkfish can grow to 47 inches and 57 pounds, the European to 78 inches and 127 pounds but these figures are meaningless since most of the fish is inedible. The European Monkfish is considered heavily over-fished though not yet on the official endangered lists. Monkfish is not kosher.   Details and Cooking

Moonfish   -   [Mene maculata family Menidae]
Moonfish This Indo - Pacific fish is found from the eastern coast of Africa through the South Pacific islands and as far north as the southern tip of Japan. This species, the only member of the Menidae (Moonfish) family, can grow to nearly 12 inches but the photo specimen was 8-1/4 inches and weighed 7.4 ounces. In its home range moonfish is often dried and can be dried without salt. Having no scales it is not kosher and is not listed as threatened.   Prep & Cooking Details.

Moonfish, Mexican   -   [Selene orstedii]
Mexican Moonfish Related to Jacks and Pompanos, these fish are found along the East Pacific coast from Baja California to Ecuador in South America. They can grow to 13 inches long, but the photo specimen, from Ecuador, was 10-1/2 inches long (7-1/2 inches without the tail), 5-1/2 inches high and 7/8 inch thick. It weighed 9-7/8 ounces. This is a typical size for those sold in Southern California. Mexican Moonfish reproduce well and are not considered threatened. They are not kosher due to lack of removable scales.   Details and Cooking.

Mudfish - see Snakehead.

Mullet Family   -   [Family Mugilidae]
Gray Mullet

Mullets are a fairly large family of salt water fish, They have always been very popular in the Mediterranean area and costal Europe but little used in North America, but they are now very common in the Asian markets here in Southern California. Confusingly, the best known "mullet", the Red Mullet, isn't a mullet at all but a Goatfish. The Mullet Family now has its own page.

Gray Mullet

Orange Roughy   -   [Hoplostethus atlanticus]
Orange Roughy

A member of the Slimehead family, this fish is caught in extremely deep cold waters, mainly off New Zealand. The fishery started in 1979 when gear was made available that could locate and catch them at such depth. They are extremely long lived (to 150 years) slow breeding fish and even at current reduced rates the fishery is probably not sustainable. Rated Do Not Eat by marine environmentalists and listed as threatened by the government of Australia. Average market size is about 2-1/4 pounds and they are so ugly they're always sold as fillets. The flesh is mild, almost shellfish like and has been compared to sole.   Drawing by Robbie Cada contributed to the public domain.

Pacu / Piranhas   -   [family Characidae]
Whole Pacu

This family of fish, native to the rivers of South America, has a very bad reputation for biting (and stripping cows to bare bones in a few minutes), but several fish on the Pacu side of the family are farmed for sale in markets, and they are really rather good eating. They do bite, and one has a reputation for biting off the balls of skinny dippers, but Pacu don't run in shoals like the famous Red Piranah. The Piranha Family now has its own page.

Whole Fish Whole fish Live fish

Paddlefish   -   [Spoonbill; Polyodon spathula (American)   |   Psephurus gladius (Chinese)]
Live fish illustration

American paddlefish are native to the Mississippi drainage basin and can grow to over 7 feet and 200 pounds. They have recently been found in the Danube, probably escaped from fish farms, and have been seen in restaurant holding tanks in southern China. Chinese paddlefish were native to rivers in northern China and grew to nearly 10 feet and 660 pounds. They are now though extinct due to dam building, polution and overharvesting.

Paddlefish are related to Sturgeon, and like sturgeon produce valuable caviar. This has traditionally been harvested from wild caught fish, but the success of California sturgeon farms has encouraged aquaculture development for both caviar and meat.   Details and Cooking.   Illustration by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = Public Domain.

Parrotfish - [Genus Scarus of family Scaridae]

Parrotfish are a fairly large family of at least 10 genera, found in reef environments in the Indo-Pacific region and also the Caribbean region. They are of critical importance to the reef environment, because they clean the coral of algae and sponges on both the sea side and the land side. Only a few species are fished commercially. The Parrotfish Family now has its own page.

Parrotfish03 Parrotfish08 Parrotfish12 Parrotfish15 Parrotfish15

Patagonian Toothfish - [Chilean Seabass, Merluza Negra (spanish), Mero (japan) Dissostichus eleginoides]
Patagonian Toothfish

A large fish (up to 250 pounds) living at great depths in the southern oceans from Uruguay to the Antarctic Circle. It has very white flesh with a high fat content but rather little flavor. A single large fish can sell for $1000 in Japan. Though marketed as "Chilean Sea Bass" in the U.S. it is not a bass at all nor is it specific to Chile. This fish is endangered by pirate fishing and it's slow rate of maturing. While there is some properly licensed commercial fishing, the pirate take is thought to be five times as large. It is not possible to tell legal from pirated fish so consuming this fish should be avoided.   Photo by US Federal Government = public domain.

Perch [Genus Perca species; also Latidae (Lates perches)]

"Perch" is the prototype for Order Perciformes (Perch-like fishes) to which most of our familiar fish belong. Perch are properly fresh water fish of which there are two main members, Walleye and Yellow Perch. There are a number of ocean fish called "perch" but none are actually perch. I am, though, including Lates perches (Latidae) here for convenience.

Yellow Perch Barramundi Walleye European Perch Zander Japanese Seabass Mandarin Fish

Petrale Sole - see Flounders

Plaice - see Flounders

Pomfret - [family Bramidae]

Yes, there actually are real pomfret, but the fish called "Pomfret" in the market aren't. They're Butterfish and Pompano. Black Pomfret Taractes rubescens, Atlantic Pomfret Brama brama and Pacific Pomfret Brama japonica are real pomfrets but I have yet to find any in the markets.   Drawing of Brama brama by U.S. Federal Government = public domain.

Pomfret, Black (Gray) - see under Pompanos Black Pomfret. There is actually a Black Pomfret that's a real Pomfret (Taractes rubescens), but the pompano is what you'll find called "black pomfret" in the markets.

Silver Pomfret - see under Butterfish Chinese Silver Pomfret.

White Pomfret - see under Butterfish Chinese Silver Pomfret.

Pompanos - [Genus Trachinotus, Parastromateus and others]

These are deep bodied ocean fish of family Carangidae (Jacks and Pompanos). and are prized eating fish worldwide. The family is, however, a bit confusing because some pompanos are called Butterfish and Pomfret while some fish from those families are called "Pompano". The Pompano Family now has its own page.

Black Pomfret Florida Pompano

Pony Fish   -   [Slip Mouth; Sap Sap (Philippine); Aurigequula fasciata (Striped Ponyfish)   |   Leiognathus equulus (Common Ponyfish)]
Whole Ponyfish 26e

These tropical Indo-Pacific fish is found from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific Islands, as far south as the north coast of Australia, and as far north as Japan. The fish get their name from their strange extensible mouths, which look like a pony's nose when extended.

The Striped Pony Fish (photo) can grow to 8 inches and the Common to 11 inches, but the photo specimen was 8 inches and weighed 5-3/4 oz, caught wild off Thailand. Living near river mouths and in mangrove areas they are both caught wild and farmed, and sold both fresh and dried. They have no scales I could find so are probably not kosher, but they're IUCN Red Listed LC (Least Concern).   Details and Cooking.

Porgy / Seabream - [family Sparidae]
Sheepshead Seabream

Porgies and Seabreams are deep bodied fish that subsist mainly by crushing shellfish and crustaceans. On the east coasts of North and South America the "Common Seabream", is the Red Porgy (Pagrus pagrus). Pagrus pagrus is also found on the coasts of southern Europe and North Africa, but the "Common Seabream" in Europe is the Blackspot Seabream (Pagellus bogaraveo). Here in California the familiar Porgies and Seabreams are all from Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Our Pacific Porgy (Calamus brachysomus) is not common in the markets. The Porgy / Seabream Family now has its own page.

Silver Seabream Yellowfin Seabream Red Seabream Sheephead Seabream Red Porgy Blackspot Seabream Hottentot Seabream Unidentified Seabream

Pufferfish - see FUGU.

Rabbitfish / Spinefoot   -   [Spinefoot; Samaral (Philippine); family Siganidae]
Whole Fish

Rabbitfish are tropical reef dwelling fish that, unlike most fish, are vegetarian, living on seaweeds (algae). Incidental to their diet they eat bacteria and other organisms adhering to the seaweed, and some of these contain ciguatera toxins. Predatory fish that eat Rabbitfish can concentrate these toxins to a dangerous degree, but Rabbitfish themselves contain only low, non-dangerous levels.

Varigated Rabbitfish Java Rabbitfish

Rex Sole - see Flounders.

Robalo - see Snook.

Rock Cod, Red - see Rockfish.

Rock Cod (true)   -   [Lotella rhacina]
Members of the cod family (Gadidae) living mainly off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand.

Rockfish / Scorpionfish   -   [Pacific Rockfish, family Scorpaenidae, family Sebastidae]
Fresh Fish

Some biologists lump all these fish under Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes) and some assign a number of genera to Sebastidae, a family not recognized at all by the first group. They are mostly venomous (poisoned spines) ranging from extremely to not much. Fortunately those off the Pacific coast of California fall in the "not much" range.

Popularly, rockfish are called names like "Sculpin" and "Rock Cod" but none are members of those families. Here on the West Coast they are popular eating fish ranging from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to the tip of Baja California, Mexico, though each species has a more limited range. The Rockfish / Scorpionfish Family now has its own page.

Scorpionfish Canary Rockfish Idiotfish Redbanded Rockfish Rougheye Rockfish Ocean Perch Vermillion Rockfish Yellowmouth Rockfish Bococcio Rockfish Mexican Rockfish Silvergray Rockfish Speckled Rockfish Beaked Redfish

Sablefish / Black Cod - [Coalfish, Butterfish; Blue Cod; Anoplopoma fimbria]
Fresh Fish

This fish is currently a darling of the fancy chef set, under the name "Black Cod". Sablefish is not at all related to real Cod, nor much of anything else - there's only one other fish in the entire Anoplopomatidae family. Sablefish are found off the North Pacific coast in deep water with sandy bottoms. They range from mid Baja California all the way around to mid China, though they're scarce south of Los Angeles and Korea. Most of the catch on this side of the Pacific is sold to Japan. This fish can grow to 47 inches and 125 pounds, but the photo specimen was 19-3/4 inches and weighed 2 pounds 6-3/4 ounces, within the normal market size.   Details and Cooking.

Salay Salay - Philippine - a number of small deep bodied Scad varieties - see Yellowstripe Scad Alepes melanoptera, Blackfin Scad Alepes melanoptera, Herring Scad Alepes vari, Shrimp Scad Alepes djedaba.

SALMON - [Family Salmonidae, Genus Oncorhynchus (Pacific) and Salmo (Atlantic) species]

Salmon are large seagoing Trout. Actually all Trout are Salmonidae but we've broken out those not called Salmon to other headings (See Trout) for a list.

Salmon live most of their lives in the deep oceans but return to the river of their birth to spawn - and then die. Why they die I do not know, other fish of the same genus, even seagoing ones, survive spawning (so are called Trout). Atlantic salmon have a high mortality at spawning but some survive.

Details and Cooking

Sand Dab - See Flounders.

Sandfish - [Sailfin Sandfish, Arctoscopus japonicus]
Fish This fish is found in sandy-muddy bottom areas of the Asian side of the North Pacific. In Japan these fish are cultured in captivity, then released for the fishery. They grow to as long as 11 inches and 7 ounces. The photo specimen was by far the largest from a tray of frozen fish purchased from a Korean grocery and was 10 inches long and just over 4 oz.   Prep & Cooking Details.

Sardines - [Herring family Clupeidae]
California Sardines

There are many varieties of Sardine, all members of the Herring Family, and each variety is likely to be known by a number of local names. Larger fish may be sold fresh but many millions are canned every year, packed in water, oil, mustard sauce and tomato sauce, with and without hot chilis. Morocco is the largest producer of canned sardines in the world, providing 41% of the world's exports. Unfortunately, in my opinion, those canned just about anywhere else are better. The Sardine Family now has its own page.

Canned Sardines Spanish Sardine California Sardine

Saury, Pacific Saury - see Mackerel Pike.

Scad   -   [family Carangidae]
Yellowtail Scad 05d

Scad belong to the same family (Carangidae) as the mild and delectable Pompanos and the stronger flavored Jacks. They resemble mackerel in flavor, but a little milder and without so much oil. These fish are popular in the Philippines, so are most likely to be found in a fish market serving a Filipino community. Small ones are also sold as Daing (Philippine dried fish). The Scad Family now has its own page.

Hardtail Scad Bigeye Scad Mackerel Scad Shortfin Scad Yellowstripe Scad Yellowtail Scad

Scorpionfish - see Rockfish.

Sculpin - [family Cottidae (Sculpins)]
Sculpins are a large family of small fish, but in California when someone says "Sculpin" they really mean the California Scorpionfish, a member of the Rockfish / Scorpionfish family(s) that looks rather like a very fat sculpin.

Sea Bream - [family Sparidae (most), family Lethrinidae, others]
A catch-all name for a number of deep bodied fish of various names that resemble fresh water bream. Most of them are Sparidae (Porgies) or Lethrinidae (Emperors) but other families are represented.

Seer Fish - [Neymeen, Aiykoora (Kerala); Vanjaram (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh); family Scombridae]
Various Mackerel, including King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel and Wahoo/Ono, used in India both fresh and dried.

Shad: - See Herring.

Shark - [class Chondrichthyes subclass Elasmobranchii superorder Selachimorpha]

Sharks are very different from other fish. When the modern fish (teleosts - bony fish) came on the scene, they rapidly pushed their predecessors toward extinction. Under severe stress some of these older fish back evolved features of their own primitive ancestors while adding some very advanced features as well. So successful were these adaptions the following era is called "The Age of Sharks" and modern fish had to struggle to survive.   Photo © i0089.

Sharks have much larger brains than modern fish and a more complex social structure. They generally give live birth instead of laying eggs and many are warm blooded and very energetic. They have no bones but a skeleton of light weight cartilage, allowing them to grow very large and still float. Their scales are formed like teeth rather than the removable flakes on modern fish (thus shark is not kosher).

Many sharks are now IUCN Red Listed as VU (Vulnerable) due to slow birth rates and Chinese demand for shark fins. Finning sharks is illegal in US waters and posession of shark fins or shark fin products is now illegal in California and Hawaii, states with the largest Chinese communities. The Shark has its own page.

Great White Thresher Tiger Shark Blue Shark Spiny Dogfish

Sheephead / Sheepshead a name applied to an number of unrelated fish. See:
California Sheephead - see Wrasse
Sheepshead Seabream - see Porgies
Freshwater Drum - see Croakers & Drums

Sild - see Herring.

Sillago - [family Sillaginidae (smelt-whitings)]
A modest size family of Indo - West Pacific fish, very slender and most under 15 inches long.

Whole Silver Sillago 05e - [Whiting, Common Whiting, Northern Whiting, Sand Whiting, Silago-whiting, Silver Whiting (Australia); Sillago sihama]
Silver Sillago

This Indo-West Pacific fish is found from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific islands, and from the southern tip of Japan to the north and west coasts of Australia. A few have gotten into the eastern Mediterranean through the Red Sea. They can grow to 13 inches but the photo specimen was 5-1/4 inches and weighed 0.6 ounce. Both caught wild and farmed, this is considered a good eating fish and is not threatened.   Details and Cooking.

Silverfish / Icefish / Noodlefish   -   [Family Salangidae (Icefishes, Noodlefishes) of Order Osmeriformes (Smelts)]
Silver Fish

These fish are related to trout, salmon and smelts, but remain very small and most species live no more than a year. They retain larval features, including lack of color, uncalcified bones and no scales. They are found in salt, brackish and fresh water along the East Asian coast from Korea south to Viet Nam, in Chinese rivers and lakes, and around Japan and the Philippines. They are generally nearly transparent when alive, but turn milky white upon death. They are economically important in China, and popular culinary fish in China, Japan and the Philippines. This fish family now has its own Silver Fish / Icefish / Noodlefish page.

Silverfish Noodlefish

Skates & Rays - [order Rajiformes (skates & Rays): family Rajidae (skates) Dasyatidae (stingrays) and others. Alternate: order Rajiformes (skates), Myliobatiformes (Rays)]
Little Skate

These mostly bottom dwelling fish are related to sharks but have pectoral fins so enlarged they are referred to as "wings". Like sharks skates have no bones but a skeleton of cartilage. Skate is generally sold as cuts from the wings and is prepared quite differently from other fish. I haven't seen ray for sale anywhere but skate wing, and sometimes whole skate can be found in Asian fish markets.

For how to tell Skates from Rays see Note F21. Note: I accept the FishBase taxonomy so I can lump skates and rays into the same paragraph, not from malice against biologists who support the "alternate" taxonomy. Some skates are listed as endangered (Common Skate, Thornback and Roker) but it's impossible to tell in the market what skate they are selling if it's just wings. No skate or ray is kosher. Skates & Rays now have their own page.   Photo of Little Skate (Leucoraja erinacea) by Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory contributed to the public domain.

Big Skate Little Skate Skate Wing

Smelt - [family Osmeridae, several genera]
Three Day Smelts

These tiny fish are related to Salmon, with some freshwater species, some saltwater and some that are freshwater and coastal brakish. . Various species are native to Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S. and Canada, some as far south as Southern California but most in northern waters. Smelt are also found along the coasts of Europe and the western Pacific. A variety native to the U.S. northeast coast was introduced to the U.S. Great Lakes in about 1918 and became an important catch there, but the population is currently in decline. The Smelt Family now has its own page.

Capelin Rainbow Smelt Surf Smelt European Smelt Delta Smelt

Snakehead   -   [Mudfish, Snakehed murrel; Dalag (Phil.); Murrel (India); Channa striata]
Whole Snakehead Fish 16e

This is one of the most important food fish in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, and popular in India and the Philippines. Both wild and farmed snakeheads are popular live in Asia but are highly illegal in North America. They can grow to 40 inches (larger in Hawaii) and 6.6 pounds but the photo specimen was 17 inches and 1-1/2 pounds. It's a fresh water fish preferring muddy water, and like the walking catifish it can survive extreme conditions and take off over land to exploit new ponds and rivers. Like the walking catfish It's a voracious predator but can survive in colder climates   Details & Cooking.

Snake Mackerels / Escolars   -   [family Gempylidae]
Fresh Snoek

This is a modest size family, with about 25 species, only three of which are commonly eaten. The Snoek is considered favorably, especially in South Africa, but a couple others are quite notorious. The Snake Mackerel Family now has its own page.

Escolar Escolar Snoek Snake Mackerel

Snappers - [family Lutjanidae (Snappers)]
Pacific Red Snapper

Snappers, particularly the Pacific Red Snapper, are very highly regarded as food fish and demand a premium price. For this reason various other fish, many not even in the Snapper family, are marketed as "Snapper" and even as "Red Snapper". The Snapper Family now has its own page.

Lane Snapper Red Snapper Cardinal Snapper Yellowtail Snapper Southern Red Snapper Jordan's Snapper Northern Snapper Silk Snapper Bluestripe Snapper Bluestripe Snapper

Snook - [Robalo, Black Snook Centropomus nigrescens (west coast), Common Snook C. undecimalis (east coast), family Centropomidae (Snooks)]
Black Snook

The Common Snook, found on the eastern coast of the Americas from North Carolina to Brazil, grows to 4-1/2 feet and 53 pounds. Black Snook, found on the western coast of the Americas from southern Baja California to northern Columbia, grows to 4 feet and 57 pounds, but the photo specimen was 16-3/4 inches and 1-1/4 pounds (factory cleaned). These two snooks look very similar except the Black is darker above the centerline.   Prep & Cooking Details.

Sole - [Common Sole, Dover Sole; Solea solea]
Common Sole

"Sole" without a qualifier means Common Sole, a fish also known as "Dover Sole" that's very popular in Europe. Unfortunately there's another by that name - see Dover Sole for an explanation of the confusion and subterfuge created by that name. This fish is native to the North Atlantic from Norway to the northwest coast of Africa, and is most numerous around the British Isles, the north coast of Germany and the coast of France. To a lesser extent it inhabits the Mediterranean and parts of the Black Sea. This fish can grow to 27 inches and 6.6 pounds but is more commonly about 12 inches.

See also Flounder and Tongue Sole. In North America a number of flounders are called "Sole" to make them seem more sophisticated and European. While there are other true soles, Common Sole is most common and preferred when available. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified the Hastings Fleet Dover Sole fishery as sustainable, but that may not apply to other fisheries. This fish is now also being farmed. As a Pacific Coast substitute use Petrale Sole (actually a flounder). Details and Cooking.   Photo by Hans Hillewaert distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

Spadefish   -   [Angelfish (in error); Chaetodipterus zonatus (Pacific)   |   Chaetodipterus faber (Atlantic)]
Spadefish 03e

The Pacific and Atlantic spadefish are difficult to tell apart, because both are so variable their characteristics overlap. I believe the photo specimen is Pacific, but am not certain. The Eastern Pacific is found from San Diego, California south to Peru, while the Atlantic is found in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts, USA south through the Gulf of Mexico and on to the far south of Brazil. The Atlantic can grow to 36 inches and 20 pounds, while the Pacific can grow to 26 inches. The photo specimen was 13 inches and weighed 1 pound 13-1/4 ounces. The Atlantic is a minor commercial catch and some aquaculture. The Atlantic is IUCN listed NE (Not Evaluated) and the Pacific LC (Least Concern).   Details and Cooking.

Spiny Eel - [Ca Chach (Viet), Peacock Eel (fishbase) Macrognathus siamensis]
Spiny Eel

Spiny Eels are a separate order (Synbranchiformes) from eels proper and eels improper (Anguilliformes). There are a fair number of spiny eel species but this one, found in the rivers of Vietnam and Southeastern Thailand, is commercially significant (and a popular aquarium fish). Infesting freshwater rivers, streams, rice paddies and flooded forests they can grow to almost 12 inches but the photo specimen was 7.5 inches and weighed 1.1 ounces, the largest in a tray of frozen eels from Vietnam. The "spiny" part is tiny sharp stickers along the back and a couple on the bottom in front of the fins.   Prep & Cooking Details.

Sprats   -   [family Clupeidae (herring family) Genus Spratus]
Whole European Sprat

This small fish, a little smaller than sardines, is particularly important in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Sprats are commonly smoked, beheaded (to fit in the can better) and packed in 4 inch by 1 inch high cans with sunflower seed oil and salt. These are a particularly important export in Latvia. They are also packed similarly to regular sardines and sold as "Brisling Sardines". The Sprat Genus now has its own page.

Squirrelfish / Blotcheye Soldierfish   -   [Myripristis berndti]
Whole Blotcheye Soldierfish

This is an Indo-Pacific fish, ranging from the east coast of Africa through the Pacific Islands, as far as the Galapagos Islands, but is not found around Easter Island. It can grow up to nearly 12 inches long, but is commonly around 9 inches. This fish is not considered threatened, IUCN Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated). It is a commercially exploited fish within its range.   Details and Cooking.

Sturgeon   -   [family Acipenseridae]
Sturgeon Sturgeons are ancient fish, highly successful and little changed for something like 200 million years. Today most species face extinction due to the absurd prices show-offs and "gourmets" will pay for their eggs (caviar), and from degradation of habitat. Sturgeon are the largest fish found in fresh water with the Russian Beluga (A. Huso huso) reaching 19 feet and and over 4500 pounds while the more slender Pacific White Sturgeon (A. Acipenser transmontanus) reaches 20 feet and 1800 pounds. The photo specimen (smoked, not yet positively identified but possibly Atlantic (A. Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus)) was 27 inches and 1.6 pounds, typical for whole smoked sturgeon found in markets serving Russian communities. The Sturgeon Family now has its own page, including caviar.

Pacific White Lake Sturgeon Atlantic / Gulf Sterlet Kaluga Sturgeon

Suckers - [family Catostomidae]
White Sucker This family, related to Carp in order Cypriniformes, contains about 78 species, all except two confined to North America. They are small fish, most averaging about 12 inches, except the Buffalo Fish. While several species are eaten as incidental catches, only a few have any commercial value or potential. They are most used as bait for catching the large predator fish that prey on suckers. Buffalo Fish, on the other hand, are a very significant fresh water commercial catch. The Sucker Family now has its own page.
Buffalo Fish White Sucker

Sunfish - [Freshwater Sunfish; family Centrarchidae (Sunfishes)]

This family of freshwater fish is native to North America. Most members are called something else, particularly "bass" and "perch". Some species of Black Bass (genus Micropterus) have been introduced worldwide and are both caught wild and farmed. Japan has been attempting to erradicate Black Bass which have been introduced there, but so far without success. The Sunfish Family now has its own page.   Illustration of Flier (Centrarchus macropterus) by Duane Raver for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = public domain.

Largemouth Bass

Swordfish - [Xiphias gladius]
Swordfish A large, ferocious predatory fish that uses it's long sharp beak as a weapon to spear prey, which includes even Orcas, and to defend against Maco Sharks, the only predator big enough, fast enough and ferocious enough to take on a swordfish. They grow to 14 feet and over 1000 pounds. Swordfish have scales but not the kind that scrape off so they are not kosher. Swordfish are not considered an endangered species. Prep & Cooking Details.   Illustration by U.S. National Oceanic and Atsmopheric Administration = public domain.

Tench - [Tinca tinca]
live fish A Eurasian fish closely related to Carp and of similar habits and appearance except with much smaller scales. It can grow to 25 inches and is an estemed eating fish in Europe though largely unavailable in the North America. Substitute Carp.   Photo by Karelj contributed to the pubic domain.

Threadfin - [family Polynemidae]
Paradise Threadfin A family of fish where several rays of the pectoral fins are detached and elongated, sometimes greatly elongated. These "pectoral rays" are thought useful for feeling out food. Threadfins are found in the Indo Pacific and the Atlantic, several along the east coast of the U.S.. Most are salt water fish but a few live in rivers and others may enter rivers at times. The Threadfin Family now has its own page.

4 Finger Threadfin Paradice Threadfin

Threadfin Bream - [Whiptail Breams, False Snappers; family Nemipteridae]
Whole Fish This medium size family of tropical Indo-Pacific fish can most commonly be found in the West Pacific, from the northern coast of Australia up to southern Japan. Some species are found instead in the Indian Ocean from East Africa to Malaysia, while a few species extend across both ranges. While small (up to about 13 inches), some of these fish are important food fish in the West Pacific region. The Threadfin Bream Family now has its own page.

Yellowbelly Threadfin Golden Thread

Tigerfish - [Unidentified]
Fresh Fish At first this fish looks a lot like the common Tilapia, but you'll quickly notice it's comparitively thick and rather heavy. This fish was grown in Taiwan and purchased at an Asian market in Los Angeles labeled "Tiger Fish". It was 12 inches long and weighed 1-1/2 pounds.   Details and Cooking.

Tilapia  -   [Nile Tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus niloticus]
Fresh Fish

This fish, native to the Nile, can grow to 23 inches but is generally marketed here at about between 10 and 13 inches and 1 to 2 pounds pounds, like the photo specimen. Tilapia was already being farm raised in Egypt probably over 4000 years ago. It has since been transported to fresh water rivers and lakes in many countries. Tolerant of poor water quality, fast growing, cheap to feed and tasty to eat, Tilapia is an ideal aquaculture fish for warmer climates. It is produced in quantity in Southern California and Arizona, but most still comes from Mexico and South America.   Details & Cooking.

Tilefish   -   [family Malacanthidae (tilefish)]
Ocean Whitefish

Tilefish are a worldwide family that eats either plankton or forages on the bottom for invertebrates. These fish live in burrows of their own construction.
Mercury:   Tilefish are at the top of the FDA's list of mercury containing fish. This is based on a 1978 study of a few fish from a single location in the Gulf of Mexico. Tilefish do not at all fit the profile for high mercury fish/ T test results are either an abberation or simply defective, and the FDA's own 2002 figures show low mercury - but don't expect them to change the list any time soon. The Tilefish Family now has its own page.

Great Northern Ocean Whitefish

Tounge Sole - [family Cynoglossidae: Cynoglossus bilineatus (Fourlined tonguesole); Cynoglossus arel Largescale tonguefish; and Others]
Both Sides

These Indo-Pacific fish are not actually sole, but Tonguefish (family Cynoglossidae). Tongue Sole can grow to around 16 inches are more commonly around 12 inches.The photo specimens were very like C. bilineatus, but I'm not completely confident that's what it is. The upper specimen was 14-1/2 inches long, 4-1/2 inches wide, 7/8 inch thick and weighed 10 ounces   Details and Cooking.

Trout - [family Salmonidae - Genus Salmo (Atlantic) and Oncorhynchus (Pacific)]
Whole Trout

Only Salmo and Oncorhynchus are offically trout, but a number of related fish are called "trout" (see below).

Among Oncorhynchus are Pacific Salmon, Apache trout (Arizona), Cutthroat trout (western North America), Gila trout (Arizona, New Mexico), Rainbow trout / Steelhead (western North America, northeast Asia and introduced everywhere).

Among Salmo are Atlantic Salmon, Adriatic trout, Brown trout (Europe and Asia), Marble Trout (southeastern Europe), Ohrid trout (Macedonia, Albania), Sevan trout (Armenia (native) and Kyrgyzstan (introduced)).

Salmo and Oncorhynchus now have their own Trout Family page. Other fish popularly called trout are:

  • Char - Salvelinus - including brook trout, lake trout and others.called "trout".
  • Graylings - Genus Thymallus
  • Hucho - Huchen (Danube), Taimen (Russian rivers, Amur river). These are often called Danube and Siberian Salmon from their size, but they don't go to sea.
  • Salmon - officially Trout, but we treat them separately anyway.
  • Whitefish - genus Coregonus
Rainbow Trout Steelhead Golden Trout Brook Trout Smoked Trout

Tuna   -   [family Scombridae (Mackerels)]
Fresh Fish

Tuna include the largest members of the Mackerel family. Unlike those called "Mackerel", tunas have deep flattened bodies. Most have scales only in a few places but that's enough to be kosher. Bluefin Tuna (all varieties) is to be avoided as all Bluefins are critically endangered. Yellowfin, Bonito, Tongal, Skipjack, Bigeye and Albacore are acceptable for eating.   The Tuna Family now has its own page.

Bluefin Tuna Tongal Tuna Skipjack

Turbots / Brill   -   [family Scophthalmidae]
Live Fish

Turbot and Brill are flat fish called for in many European recipes, but none of these fish get any farther west than Iceland. They inhabit the coasts of Europe below the arctic circle, thorugh the Mediterranean, into the Black Sea and on the northwest corner of Africa. Suggested substitute, Petrale Sole (called "brill" in western Canada). The Turbots / Brill family now has its own page.   Photo by Luc Viatour distuributed under license Creative Commons Share-Alike v3.0 Unported.

Fish Watercolor Turbot Megrim

Tuyo - Philippine dried sardines, see our Daing / Tuyo page.

Walleye - see Perch.

Whitebait - see Herring.

Whitefish   -   [genus Coregonus C. clupeaformis. C. lavaretus (Europe) and other species]

Arctic and subarctic estuary, river and lake fish related to the salmon, whitefish can grow to about 30 inches and about 20 pounds but the one in the photo is 19-3/4 inches and weighed 2-1/2 pounds factory cleaned. They are generally caught wild but are also farmed.

Whitefish are often smoked but are also an important fresh fish in the Frozen North, particularly in Russia, Alaska, Canada and the U.S. Great Lakes area. The roe is valued as a pretty good caviar.   Prep & Cooking Details

Whitefish - Ocean Whitefish - see Tilefish.

Whiting Atlantic and Pacific - see Cod.

Whiting Indo Pacific & Australia - Smelt Whitings - see Sillago

Wrasses - [family Labridae]
California Sheephead Wrasses are generally tropical and subtropical fish that appeared about 65 million years ago just after extinction of the dinosaurs. Many smaller wrasses are "cleaner fish" which establish "cleaning stations" larger fish stop at to get parasites removed from inside their mouths and gills and from their skins. Some other "cleaner wrasses" make house calls to service shy fish or fish that don't travel much. Larger wrasses live on sea urchins, mollusks, lobsters, crabs and other hard shelled bottom creatures. The Wrass Family now has its own page.

Razorfish Sheephead

Yellow Corvina - [Yellowfish] - see Corvina.

Yellowfish - see Yellow Croaker and/or Corvina.

Yellowtail - see Jacks.

Zander - see Perch.

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©Andrew Grygus - - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page permitted
All photos not otherwise credited are © cg1