The Many Forms of Market Fish

Awareness of the market forms of fish, storage hints, and cooking tips can help your fish go from mere tasty dishes to meals of unmatched delicacy.

You can purchase fish in many forms at your local fish market. Some are ready to cook, while others require special preparation.

Whole Fish

Marketed just as it is caught. Don’t let this fact keep your from preparing whole fish – it’s actually easy to prepare. It’s also often more delicious than fillets.

Drawn Fish

Only entrails removed. Still needs cleaning. When purchasing drawn fish, allow about 3/4 pound per serving. Since entrails cause rapid spoilage, drawn fish have a longer storage life.

Dressed Fish

Scaled and entrails removed. Ready to cook. The term “pan-dressed” is frequently used. This simply means that the fish has been trimmed, scaled, gutted, boned or filleted and is ready to go straight into your pan.

Fish Steaks

Slices cut crosswise. Grilled fish steaks are a wonderful choice for entertaining. The word “steak” in fish steak refers to a type of fish, not the way a particular fish is cut for cooking.

Fish Fillets

Boneless pieces cut from the sides. Firm white fish, cod, haddock, or grouper are examples of fish that make great fish fillets.

Butterfly Fillets

Two sides cut away from the backbone. A prime boneless cut is cut either as a block cut or bias cut. These are considered the best and choicest cut of fish.

Cured Fish

Cured by smoking, drying, salting or pickling. Many say that the best cured fish uses salt blocks for curing.


Cured and partially dried. Will not keep long.


Partially or wholly cooked. Needs freezing.

Dried Fish

Air or heat dried and salted. Lasts forever. Fish jerky is a popular type of dried fish. It is best when made with lean fish. In Italy, where many are devout Catholics required to eat meatless meals on Fridays and holy days, people came to rely on dried fish.

Salted Fish

Dry-salted or brine-cured. Can be pickled. Salted fish is preserved with salt and dried, either under the sun or using modern technology.

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