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Common Cuts of Fish and When To Use Them.

With so many cuts of fish lining the shelves, it can be difficult to know which works best for you. If you’re ready to stock up on some fresh catches for that snazzy new seafood recipe you found, keep this guide on hand. We’ll walk you through when to use each type of fish cut, how to store each and also, how to check for its freshness.

Once done, you can put your newfound knowledge to good use at our online fish market. Alternatively, you’re welcome to pay us a visit, too. Our fishmongers are always ready to welcome any questions that you might have. Just talk to us about your cooking plans and we’ll gladly recommend the best fish and cut to make that dream dish a reality.

Whole Fish

Choose this if: You’re looking to impress guests with a whole baked or grilled fish, a papillote or, if you’d rather break down the fish for a seafood feast (a good excuse to enjoy some fish head curry with prata, no?)

Freshness check: 

  • Smell: You’re looking for a whiff of ocean breeze and not a noticeably fishy odour 
  • Colour: The fish should retain its colour and shine 
  • Appearance: Bright eyes, moist skin, intact scales, red gills and firm, elastic flesh

Fish Fillets

Prepared by cutting lengthwise along one side of the fish to remove its backbone. Mostly boneless and may come skin-on or skin-off.

Choose this if: You’re ever in doubt about which cut to use. It’s great for pan-searing, baking, frying or, sautéing, etc.

Freshness check: 

  • Smell: You’re looking for a whiff of ocean breeze and not a noticeably fishy odour 
  • Colour: The flesh should retain its colour and not appear dull
  • Appearance: Moist flesh, shiny and resilient skin

Fish Loin

A prime cut from above the spine of the fish. Usually of uniform thickness, offering the densest meat without skin or bones.

Choose this if: You’re looking for the crème de la crème of fish cuts. It yields many similar sized portions and also avoids the bloodlines of larger fish like tuna.

Freshness check: 

  • Smell: You’re looking for a whiff of ocean breeze and not a noticeably fishy odour 
  • Colour: The flesh should retain its colour and not appear dull
  • Appearance: Be wary of dehydration caused by the exposure of the skinless meat to air

Fish Steak

Approximately 1.5 – 2.5 cm thick and comes from cutting a round fish crosswise. Usually lined by a band of skin with a section of the backbone in its centre. 

Choose this if: You’re looking for a sturdier cut that is less likely to fall apart upon cooking. Denser steaks can be grilled, broiled or braised while those of more delicate flesh are good for poaching and baking.

Freshness check: 

  • Smell: You’re looking for a whiff of ocean breeze and not a noticeably fishy odour 
  • Colour: The flesh should retain its colour and not appear dull
  • Appearance: Moist flesh and freshly red blood clots around the backbone (not blackish)

Butterflied Fish

Butterflying keeps the fish “whole” but removes most of its bones. It is prepared when both sides of the fillet are left connected at the top. 

Choose this if: You’re looking to pan-sear or bake your fish as this cut locks in moisture and flavor. The larger cavity also makes it perfect for stuffing. 

Freshness check: 

  • Smell: You’re looking for a whiff of ocean breeze and not a noticeably fishy odour 
  • Colour: The flesh should retain its colour and not appear dull
  • Appearance: Moist flesh, shiny and resilient skin

How to Store Your Fish

Shelf Life: 3 days when chilled
Storage: Keep the fish in its original packaging in the coldest part of your fridge

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