1. Fish is a popular and nutritionally good food. As a source of protein it is equal to meat. The range of fish available to the caterer is extensive and is not limited to the varieties discussed in the following section.


2. In this section fish is grouped under these distinct headings:

a. White Fish

b. Oily Fish

c. Shell Fish

3. These categories provide a clear and useful guide to specific methods of cookery and styles of serving but should not be treated as hard and fast rules as there are exceptions, for example, oily fish are generally not suitable for deep frying but whitebait are an exception to the rule.

a. White Fish. These can be flat or round. The following are the most common and widely used:

(1) Flat. Plaice, Lemon Sole, Dover sole, Turbot, Halibut, skate, Brill and Dab.

(2) Round. Cod, Haddock, whiting, Red Mullet, Bass, Hake and Ling.

b. Oily Fish. These fish are always round. The following are the most common. Trout, Sea Trout, Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Sardine, Sprat, Whitebait, Pilchard and Anchovy.

c. Shell Fish. There are two types - crustaceans and molluscs. An easy way to differentiate between the two types is to remember that crustaceans have legs and molluscs do not.. The following are the most common and widely used:

(1) Molluscs. Mussel, Oyster and Scallop.

(2) Crustaceans. Crab, Lobster, Scampi, Prawn, Shrimp, Crayfish and Crawfish.


4. Fish is available either fresh or processed in a variety of ways , the most popular being frozen, smoked, canned, pickled or dried. Fresh fish and shellfish are available throughout the year. However, the quality, availability and cost, will vary from season to season, eg:

a. Place is available throughout the year but is at its best between May and January.

b. Lobsters and Crabs are available throughout the year but are at their best during the summer months.

c. English Mussels and Oysters are available between September and April. Good quality frozen items are available all the year round.


5. Purchasing. Fresh fish should be purchased daily. If purchased on the bone the following points should be noted:

a. The loss from filleting and wastage is:

Flat Fish 50%

Round Fish 60%

b. Medium sized fish generally offer the better buy. In small fish the proportion of bone is too great. The flesh of larger and older fish is more coarse and less tender.

6. Quality. The eyes should be bright and full, not sunken. The gills red and moist. Scales if present, should be firmly attached. The skin moist or covered with fresh sea slime. The smell should be clean and not offensive.

7. Storage. The fish should be stored in ice, in a separate refrigerator or in a part of a refrigerator kept only for fish. The temperature should be kept at just above freezing point


8. Purchasing. Frozen fish can be purchased in blocks or individually quick frozen (IQF). The fillet size eg 75 g, 100 g, 125 g etc should be stipulated when ordering.

9. Quality. The fish should be thoroughly frozen solid throughout with no soft areas. There should be no freezer-burn dull white patches or ice crystals present in the flesh, if they are the fish may have defrosted and been re-frozen.

10. Storage. The fish should be kept in a deep freeze cabinet or a freezer compartment at minus 18oC or below until required.


11. Purchasing. Shellfish can be purchased live, ready cooked or quick frozen. With the exception of prawns and shrimps which are usually purchased ready cooked all shellfish should be purchased alive or quick frozen. Shell-fish deteriorate quickly so ready cooked shellfish are often not a good buy. Points to note in respect of the different types are:

a. Molluscs. The shells should be closed, if nit they should close immediately when tapped. If the shell does not close then the fish is dead and should be discarded.

b. Crustaceans. These should be heavy and full when tapped. When lobsters etc have been out of the sea for any appreciable period the flesh shrinks and you are buying more shell than fish.

12. Quality. Points to note are as follows:

a. lobsters. Live lobsters are a blue black in colour, turning scarlet when cooked. Both claws should be attached. There is usually more flesh on the hen lobster but the flesh is considered inferior to that of the cock. The coral of the hen lobster is used to give colour and flavour to soups and sauces.

b. Crabs. The claws should be large and heavy and both be attached. The hen crab has a broader tail which is pink in colour. The cock has a narrow white tail. There is more flesh on the hen but it is considered inferior to that of the cock.

c. Crawfish. Blue black in colour it turns orange - red when cooked. In appearance they are the large spiny lobsters with long antenna and no claws.

d. Crayfish. A small fresh water shellfish similar in appearance to a lobster.

e. Oysters. Oysters must be alive when purchased. they should have a clean fresh smell.

f. Mussels. The shells must be tightly closed. They should be large in size and have a clean fresh smell.

g. Scallops. The shells must be tightly closed. When opened the orange tongue should be bright and plump.

13. Storage. Live shellfish should be kept in a refrigerator or cold room covered with damp cloths. They should be cooked as soon as possible after purchasing.


14. As a method of preserving fish prior to the invention of canning and freezing, smoking was and remains very popular. The most popular varieties of smoked fish available are: salmon, trout, haddock, kippers, mackerel, oysters, cod-roe and eel.

15. Brightly coloured smoked fish should be avoided as this suggests that the fish has been dyed and flavoured and not traditionally smoked. Smoked fish must be stored in a refrigerator.


16. Oily varieties of fish are usually used in canning. Sardines, salmon, anchovies, pilchards, tuna, herring and herring roes are the most popular types. They are canned either in their own juice, or in brine, oil or tomato sauce.


17. Herrings filleted, rolled and pickled in vinegar are known as rollmops, mussels and cockles are also available purchased pickled.


18. Cuts of fish consist of the following:

a. Fillets. A cut of fish free from bone. A flat fish yields 4 fillets, whilst a round fish yields 2 fillets. The fillet is not normally cut again. If it is the cut is known as supreme.

b. Supremes. This is the cut from a large fillet of a large fish eg turbot brill, halibut or cod. The cut is always made on the slant.

c. Delice. A fillet from one of the smaller flat fish eg sole. The fillet is trimmed and neatly folded in half.

d. Paupiette. This is a fillet from one of the smaller flat fish. It is spread with fish stuffing and rolled up.

e. Troncon. A portion cut from one of the larger flat fish eg turbot, halibut or brill on the bone.

f. Darne. A portion of round fish cut on the bone. More usually salmon or cod.

g. Half Darne. A half darne of very large round fish which would otherwise produce a portion too large for practical use.