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WhiteFish1Fish can be divided, according to their oil content, into white fish, oily fish and shellfish. All white fish and most oily fish come from the sea. The seas around Britain have for centuries supplied this most basic and nutritious food. The British fleet trawls as far north as Greenland.d and Newfoundland, and these long-distance trawlers are, in effect, fishing factories, they gut, clean and deep-freeze their catches over several months. There are more than 40 major distribution ports in Britain from which fresh, chilled fish are transported to wholesalers and retailers.

Fresh fish can be recognised by its firm flesh, clear, full and shiny eyes, bright red gills and clean smell. Steaks, cutlets and fillets should have firm, closely packed flakes, any with fibrous or watery appearance are stale. Fish whose flesh has a blue or green tinge is almost certainly not fresh - on flat fish this is most apparent on the dark side.

Small white fish, whether flat or round, are sold whole or filleted. Large fish, such as turbot, halibut, haddock, hake and cod, may be purchased whole or as fillets, cutlets and steaks. These basic cuts of fish are shown on the right. The fillet from a large round fish, such as cod is longer and thicker than a fillet from a flat fish such as plaice and sole. The steak, also cut from a round fish, is taken from between the middle part of the body and the tail. The cutlet comes from between the head and the middle part of the body.

WhiteFish2Bass

A round silvery fish with greyish-blue back and white underside. The delicate flesh should be uniformly pink and sweet-smelling. Bake or poach, grill small whole fish. Season from May to August.

Sea Bream

A round, bony fish with a deep body, coarse scales and a black spot behind the head. The flesh is pink and delicate. Needs careful scaling. Bake, grill or fry. Season from June to December.

WhiteFish4Brill

Flat fish similar to turbot, but smaller. When fresh, the skin is slightly slimy. Grey-yellow, with small scales and yellow-white delicate flesh. Suitable for baking or grilling. Season is all year, but best, January to April.

Cod

Large round fish with an elongated body which may weigh up to 36 kilograms. It has an olive-brown back with yellow and brown spots, small soft grey scales which should look bright, and white underside. The firm white flesh is sold whole, as fillets or steaks, often sold frozen. Avoid any fish with pink or grey discolouration. Suitable for poaching, baking or grilling. Best, October to April.

Cod Roe - The pinkish hard female roe and the soft male roe, known as chitterling, are sold boiled or uncooked. The hard roe is also smoked.

WhiteFish6Coley

This round fish has near-black skin and pinkish-grey flesh which goes white when cooked. Always sold as fillets and suitable for grilling, frying and baking. Available most of the year.

Dab

Flat fish related to plaice, but smaller and with rough scales. Look for fish with slimy skin. Sold whole, weighing 200 grams, suitable for grilling and frying. Season from April to January.

WhiteFish8Dog Fish

Related to the shark family, always sold skinned and split through. The firm white flesh is creamy in flavour. Best used in soups and stews. Season is all year, but best from September to May.

Flounder

Flat fish of the same family as brill and plaice. The light brown upper side, with orange-red spots, should have a little slime on it, and the underside should be creamy-white. Season from September to February.

WhiteFish10Haddock

A round fish of the cod family, with grey skin. A dark line runs along both flanks and there is a dark smudge behind the gills. The white flesh, which should be very firm, is sold whole or as steaks and fillets. Suitable for poaching, baking and frying. Available all year round, but best from November to February.

Smoked Haddock - Is smoked until pale yellow, on the bone or as fillets. Very yellow haddock has probably been artificially coloured. It loses its flavour quickly.

Arbroath Smokies - Small whole haddock hot smoked to a brown colour.

Hake

A round, long and slender fish with scaly silver-grey skin and tender, white, flaky flesh. Practically boneless. Sold as cutlets and fillets and suitable for baking. Best from July to March.

WhiteFish12Halibut

This flat fish weighs from 4.1 kilograms to 135 kilograms. It has dark olive skin, marbled with lighter olive. The white dry flesh should be quite firm. Best from August to April. Chicken Halibut is smaller, 450 grams to 3.6 kilograms in weight.

Greenland or Mock Halibut - Weighs 900 grams to 2.3 kilograms, has dark skin on both sides and oily, less expensive flesh. Co.sidered inferior to proper halibut, but at its best from March to October.

Plaice

Flat fish, creamy-white on the underside, grey-brown with orange spots on the upper side. On fresh fish, the spots should be quite bright and the soft white flesh should be bright with no signs of discolouration. Sold whole or as fillets. Grill, poach, bake or fry. Available all year, but best from January to April.

WhiteFish14Rockfish

A round blue-grey fish, with firm flesh tinged with pink. Best used for stews and soups. Season from September to February.

Skate

This flat, ray-shaped fish has slightly moist, slimy and smelly skin, with pink flesh. Only the wings, with prominent bones, are sold. Poach, grill or fry. Best from October to April.

WhiteFish16Sole

The elongated to oval body is almost completely surrounded by fins and is covered with tiny hard scales, firmly attached to the skin. The colour is usually olive-brown with irregular black markings on the upper side. The underside is white. The flesh is finely textured and delicate in flavour. Fresh sole is covered with slime and the ski. is difficult to peel off. Sold whole or in fillets, for poaching, grilling and frying. Available all year, but best from May to February.

Lemon Sole - This is wider and more pointed than Dover sole and has light brown skin with darker brown spots on the upper side. The flesh is more stringy and has less flavour. Best from December to March.

Witch - Similar to lemon sole, but thinner. The pure white flesh lacks the flavour of real sole. Best from August to April.

Turbot

A flat fish with black skin and raised growths on its back. Creamy-white on the underside and with white, firm flesh. Similar to halibut, but with less dry, more delicately flavoured flesh. Sold whole, as steaks or fillets, for poaching, baking and grilling. Available all year, but best from April to July.

WhiteFish18Whiting

A round fish belonging to the cod family. Grey-olive-green on the back, with pale yellow shading to silvery on the underside. When fresh the soft flesh is flaky, but deteriorates rapidly. Poach, bake or fry. Season is all year round.

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