The Fish We Cook – Bluefish, Bonito and Butterfish
Sometimes called snapping mackerel, tailor, fatback or skipjack, the bluefish is found in warm coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to Argentina. In the winter months they are found in large quantities off the coast of Florida. As the weather warms many, but not all, migrate north as far as Cape Cod. They are a pelagic fish, which means they live near the surface of the water. A young bluefish is called a snapper and a mature one is called a chopper. These are names given because of their sharp clicking teeth and tremendous appetite, attacking even humans. The bluefish frequently weighs 10 pounds and has been known to reach 27 pounds and 3 ½ feet in length. It has a tender, firm flesh that is moderate in fat with a distinctive flavor. After cooking the meat remains moist. The best way to cook bluefish is to bake, broil or oven fry.
The bonito can be found on the east coast from Nova Scotia to Argentina and on the west coast from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California. Sometimes called Skipjack or Horse Mackerel, the Bonito is dark blue on the back and has a white belly with horizontal stripes that slant upward toward the tail. It is a very fast, strong swimmer often reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour. It’s average weight is from 4 to 6 pounds but it can reach 18 pounds and 40 inches in length. It has a very distinctive flavor with a rather chewy, layered flesh. The bonito is often substituted for skipjack tuna but can’t be sold as tuna. After cooking it has a dark color with low moisture content. The best way to cook bonito is to bake, broil or grill.
The Butterfish is a family of fish found on the west coast from British Columbia to Baja California and on the east coast from Nova Scotia to the shores of North Carolina. Resembling the Florida pompano, the butterfish is mistakenly called pacific pompano or golden pompano on the west coast. On the east coast it can be found under the name dollarfish, pumpkinseed, shiner, skipjack or harvest fish. The butterfish is a thin fish with a somewhat oval shape. It has a bluish or gray back and a silver belly. It averages 8 inches in length but it can grow to 12 inches and 1 ½ pounds. It has a tender flakey flesh and is mild in flavor. After cooking it remains moist with a little color. The best way to cook butterfish is to bake, pan fry or poach.
I worked for 40 years buying and selling fish at the retail level. I have a site that lists many other fish found in the United States with instructions on how to cook them. If you want to learn how to bake, broil, deep fry, oven fry, pan fry, poach, saute or steam fish, check these out.
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Category: Food & Cooking