Fish -

The annual catch of fish in the United States - sea, lakes and rivers - averages about 2,200,000,000 pounds, most of which is consumed in this country. To obtain the actual quantity of food represented, the figures must be considerably reduced, as the loss of weight in dressing varies from 15% to 50%. To the net total is added the importation of nearly 200,000,000 pounds - fresh, salted, canned, etc. The final figures sound very impressive, but when due allowance is made for the large per capita consumption by the general public.

Public opinion has been enlightened from time to time by medical and other scientific advocacy of a greater consumption of fish as especially suited to the semi-sedentary habits and lives of a very large percentage of the population, and the result has undoubtedly been an increased appreciation and consumption, but it remains true that, by probably the majority, fish is still looked upon as an "extra" course, an exclusively Friday meat or, in the case of canned goods, as an emergency item. A more general use of fish would tend to decrease the cost of living by relieving the pressure of our ever-increasing numbers on the beef supply.

It is somewhat curious to note the tenacity of certain erroneous impressions concerning fish as a food. It is still commonly believed that it is an especially good brain stimulant because of the phosphorus contained in the flesh. As a matter of fact, fish contains little if any more phosphorus than beef, and even if it did, there is no reason to believe that it would therefore exercise any perceptible influence on the brain. On the other hand, many people undoubtedly eschew fish because they fear ptomaine poisoning - yet, under conditions of proper care and cleanliness, there is no more danger of poisoning from fish than from many other articles of food.

Stripped of all prejudices and traditions, fish is very similar to lean beef in its food composition. The many varieties differ considerably in their proportions of the different elements, but they are all similar in that they supply the human system with a considerable percentage of protein - muscle and flesh building nutrients.

The fish which most closely correspond with the average beef percentage of protein are the halibut, pollack, Maine SALMON and sturgeon. Those exceeding the beef average in protein include: cod-steaks, smoked and salted cod, smoked and salted halibut, smoked and salted HERRING, mackerel, California SALMON and canned sardines.

A third list of those averaging a little below in protein percentage, takes in black BASS, sea BASS, BLUEFISH, butterfish, cusk, fresh HERRING, fresh mackerel, yellow PERCH, PICKEREL, POMPANO, REDSNAPPER, SHAD, TROUT, WEAKFISH and WHITEFISH.

The average of protein of all fish sold, including the lesser varieties, is about two-thirds of that of beef.

It will be noted that in the fourth paragraph fish was described as tallying closely with lean beef. The average cut of beef contains a considerable percentage of fat, but this element is found in similar portions in comparatively few varieties of fish - the majority having more water and less fat.

There are, however, a number of fish which contain as much fat as such meats as young chickens, veal, etc. - among them being butterfish, smoked or salted halibut, smoked or salted HERRING, mackerel, SALMON, canned sardines, TROUT and TURBOT - and a few which equal medium-fat beef in fat percentage, chief among them being California SALMON, smoked and salted halibut and salted and canned mackerel - the last-named indeed frequently exceeding it in fat. The fat of beef is, though, generally more easily digested than that of fish.

Other fish which contain a fair proportion of fat are alewife, striped BASS, fresh-smoked haddock, fresh halibut, fresh HERRING, MULLET, POMPANO, PORGY, SHAD and WHITEFISH.

Shellfish, being treated under a separate head, have not been included in these comparisons.

The digestibility of fish varies with the different varieties, but as a general rule it may be stated that those with the smaller amount of fat are the more easily digested, and that fresh fish, though less rich in food values, is more easily assimilated than that smoked or dried. Canned uncured fish corresponds very closely in digestibility with the fresh fish of the same variety.

In buying fish, freshness should be insisted on as essential. The flesh should be firm and the skin and eyes bright. Avoid any whose meat is so soft that the pressure of the finger leaves a mark. Cleanliness both in storing and handling are very important.

Most fish are at their best just before spawning time, except SHAD, which is considered the choicest when spawning; and when very fresh, except halibut, which improves in flavor with a little age. After spawning, fish loses greatly in quality - the flavor is less desirable and the flesh becomes soft.

It should be remembered that the ordinary temperature of a cooling room or refrigerator is not cold enough to keep fresh fish in prime condition. It should instead be buried in fine cracked ice. For shipment and storage, it is frequently frozen into blocks of ice.

All fish should be thoroughly cleaned before cooking.

Dried, Salted, Smoked and Pickled fish should always be kept out of the sun and as cool as possible. If the brine dries out or leaks away in transit ot in the cellar, rebrine them at once. Keep the barrel covered and use a special fish fork for handling the fish.

Smoked and cured fish of all kinds are best in cold weather.

Canned fish, as also all other kinds of canned goods, should be emptied into a china or glass vessel or dish when the can is opened - it should never be left in the can.

Of the fresh fish, striped BASS, butterfish, cod, cusk, eels, haddock, halibut, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, pollack, Pacific SALMON, imported sole and sturgeon are found in the eastern market all the year round. The others are, generally, in season in accordance with the following list:

  • ANGEL, or Moon fish - July and August.
  • BASS: Lake or Black - June to December.
  • Sea - May to October.
  • BLACKFISH, or Tautog - April to October.
  • BLUEFISH - May to October.
  • BLOATERS - October to April.
  • BONITO - June to October.
  • CARP, Common or Buffalo - Middle of July to October. German - October to April.
  • FLOUNDERS - Spring and Summer.
  • FROST-fish - October to March.
  • GRAYLING - September to January.
  • GROUPER - November to March.
  • Hake - See WHITING.
  • HERRING - October to April.
  • LAFAYETTE - Middle of August to November.
  • LAMPREY - April to September.
  • MULLET - June to October.
  • MUSCALLONGE - June to December.
  • PERCH - September to May.
  • PICKEREL - June to December.
  • PIKE - September to April.
  • POMPANO - May, July, latter half of November and December.
  • PORGY - June 15 to October 15.
  • REDSNAPPER - October to middle of July.
  • SALMON (Kennebec) - May 15 to September 30.
  • SHAD - January to June.
  • SHEEPSHEAD - June 15 to November 15.
  • SKATE, or Ray fish - September to June.
  • SMELT - August 15 to April 15.
  • SPOTFISH - August to May.
  • TROUT, American - January to middle of July.
  • English - January to March. Brook - April to August.
  • TURBOT, American - January to March.
  • English - January to March.
  • WEAKFISH - May 15 to October 15.
  • WHITEBAIT (imported) - March to August.
  • WHITEFISH - November to July.
  • WHITING, or Silver Hake - September to January.
  • See also additional matter concerning the fish mentioned in their respective alphabetical positions.

    Arround Fish in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

    Fish Culture

    The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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