A Guide to Types of Fish & How to Cook Them

Sarah Mickey All Recipes, Culinary Tips & Techniques, Seafood Tips & Techniques 1 Comment

Shape – Round Fish vs. Flatfish

Shape classification is useful for determining how a fish should be prepped for cooking.

Round Fish:  Round fish are the most common classification of fish, and what you generally think of when you imagine a fish shape.  They have a long, rounded shape and eyes on either side of their body.  Their meat can be separated into two fillets, cut from either side of the backbone & belly.

Examples include salmon, trout, & rockfish/red snapper.

Flatfish:  Flatfish are just that – flat.  They tend to have both of their eyes on one side (the top) of their body, and leathery inedible skin that must be removed prior to consuming.  Flatfish have four smaller fillets, two on either side of their spine on top, two on either side of the spine on bottom.  Examples include sole & halibut.

Fat Content – Lean Fish vs. Fatty Fish

Fat content classification is useful for determining how a fish should be cooked, and how long it will take to cook.

Lean Fish: Lean fish can have as little as .5% fat.  They cook quickly and can dry out easily if roasted or baked.  They’re often served with sauces.

Examples include cod, sole, flounder, striped bass, mahi mahi, red snapper/rockfish, tilapia, perch, pike and halibut.

Recommended cooking techniques:

Poaching Steaming Frying Sautéing

If broiling or baking lean fish, be sure to baste them frequently to keep them from drying out.

Fatty Fish: Fat fish have a higher oil/fat content (some as high as 20%) that gives them rich flavor and keeps them from drying out.

Examples include salmon, yellowfin tuna, rainbow trout, swordfish, sea bass, black cod (sablefish), Spanish mackerel, Arctic char, ono/wahoo, whitefish, bluefish, and sturgeon.

Recommended cooking techniques:

Broiling Baking Pan Searing Poaching Steaming

Some fat fish are better suited to sautéing than others depending on how oily they are.  In general, fat fish are not well suited to frying – many become too oily or greasy.

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Comments 1

  1. My family and I love fish. My Father-In-Law and my Dad both love to fish so I get many fresh supplies all the time, lucky me. So, this is very helpful. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. 🙂

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