Cod belongs to one of the most prolific fish families (Gadidoe), and is widely distributed throughout the northern and temperate seas of both hemispheres. On account of its abundance, cheapness, and easy procurability, it forms, from an economical standpoint, one of the most important fish foods. Cod have been caught weighing over a hundred pounds, but average market cod weigh from six to ten pounds; a six-pound cod measures about twenty-three inches in length. Large cod are cut into steaks. The skin of cod is white, heavily mottled with gray, with a white line running the entire length of fish on either side. Cod is caught in shallow or deep waters. Shallow-water cod (caught off rocks) is called rock cod; deep-water cod is called off-shore cod. Rock cod are apt to be wormy. Cod obtained off George’s Banks, Newfoundland, are called George’s cod, and are commercially known as the best fish. Quantities of cod are preserved by drying and salting. Salted George’s cod is the best brand on the market. Cod is in season throughout the year.
Cod Liver Oil is obtained from cods’ livers, and has great therapeutic value. Isinglass, made from swimming bladder of cod, nearly equals in quality that made from bladder of sturgeon.
Haddock is more closely allied to cod than any other fish. It is smaller (its average weight being about four pounds), and differently mottled. The distinguishing mark of the haddock is a black line running the entire length of fish on either side. Haddock is found in the same water and in company with cod, but not so abundantly. Like cod, haddock is cheap, and in season throughout the year. Haddock, when dried, smoked, and salted, is known as Finnan Haddie.
Halibut is the largest of the flatfish family (Pleuronectidæ), specimens having been caught weighing from three to four hundred pounds. Small, or chicken, halibut is the kind usually found in market, and weighs from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. Halibut are distinctively cold-water fish, being caught in water at from 32° to 45° F. They are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, where they are nearly identical. The halibut has a compressed body, the skin on one side being white, on the other light, or dark gray, and both eyes are found on the dark side of head. Halibut is in season throughout the year.
Turbot (called little halibut) is a species of the flatfish family, being smaller than halibut, and of more delicate flavor. Turbot are in season from January to March.
Flounder is a small flatfish, which closely resembles the sole which is caught in English waters, and is often served under that name.
Trout are generally fresh-water fish, varying much in size and skin-coloring. Lake trout, which are the largest, reach their greatest perfection in Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior, but are found in many lakes. Salmon trout is the name applied to trout caught in New York lakes. Brook trout, caught in brooks and small lakes, are superior eating. Trout are in season from April to August, but a few are found later.
Whitefish is the finest fish found in the Great Lakes.
Smelts are small salt water fish, and are usually caught in temperate waters at the mouths of rivers. New Brunswick and Maine send large quantities of smelts to market. Selected smelts are the largest in size, and command higher price. The Massachusetts Fish and Game Protective Law forbids their sale from March 15th to June 1st. Smelts are always sold by the pound.
Bluefish belongs to the Pomatomidæ family. It is widely distributed in temperate waters, taking different names in different localities. In New England and the Middle States it is generally called Bluefish, although in some parts called Snappers, or Snapping Mackerel. In the Southern States it is called Greenfish. It is in season in our markets from May to October; as it is frozen and kept in cold storage from six to nine months, it may be obtained throughout the year. The heavier the fish, the better its quality. Bluefish weigh from one to eight pounds, and are from fourteen to twenty-nine inches in length.
Mackerel is one of the best-known food fishes, and is caught in North Atlantic waters. Its skin is lustrous dark blue above, with wavy blackish lines, and silvery below. It sometimes attains a length of eighteen inches, but is usually less. Mackerel weigh from three-fourths of a pound to two pounds, and are sold by the piece. They are in season from May 1st to September 1st. Mackerel, when first in market, contain less fat than later in the season, therefore are easier of digestion. The supply of mackerel varies greatly from year to year, and some years is very small. Spanish mackerel are found in waters farther south than common mackerel, and in our markets command higher price.
Salmon live in both fresh and salt waters, always going inland, usually to the head of rivers, during the spawning season. The young after a time seek salt water, but generally return to fresh water. Penobscot River Salmon are the best, and come from Maine and St. John, New Brunswick. The average weight of salmon is from fifteen to twenty-five pounds, and the flesh is of pinkish orange color. Salmon are in season from May to September, but frozen salmon may be obtained the greater part of the year. In the Columbia River and its tributaries salmon are so abundant that extensive canneries are built along the banks.
Shad, like salmon, are found in both salt and fresh water, always ascending rivers for spawning. Shad is caught on the Atlantic coast of the United States, and its capture constitutes one of the most important fisheries. Shad have a silvery hue, which becomes bluish on the back; they vary in length from eighteen to twenty-eight inches, and are always sold by the piece, price being irrespective of size. Jack shad are usually cheaper than roe shad. The roe of shad is highly esteemed. Shad are in season from January to June. First shad in market come from Florida, and retail from one and one-half to two dollars each. The finest come from New Brunswick, and appear in market about the first of May.
Caviare is the salted roe of the sturgeon.
Herring are usually smoked, or smoked and salted, and, being very cheap, are a most economical food.