Like beef or pork, there are many different cuts of fish. Some of these cuts go under different names or are specific to a certain species of fish. Because of this, it can be difficult to know which cuts of fish you should look for when eating in a restaurant or preparing a new seafood recipe at home. Here are the 6 most common cuts of fish with some tips on how prepare each.
A fillet is the meat cut from the sides of the fish. There are three types of fillets: whole, v-cut and j-cut with the latter two being the most popular. With both cuts, the pin bone is removed. In a j-cut, the nape - a small, thin, fatty piece of meat on the lower side of the fillet - has also been removed. Fillets from larger fish can be cut further into portions. The parts of the fillet that are left over are called pieces or “off-cuts,” which are just as good as the loins, but slightly less uniform. Fillets are extremely versatile cuts that can be seasoned, marinated, baked, fried and sautéed, and depending on the species, can be found skin-on and skin-off.
2. Butterfly Fillet
Commonly used for small freshwater fish, a butterfly fillet is essentially two fillets attached by skin that when spread out, take on the shape of a butterfly. This cut is ideal for pan frying or baking.
There are two types of loins – “natural” fillet loins from small and medium-sized fish and “cut” loins taken lengthwise across the backs of large fish like tuna, swordfish and shark. Whether “natural” or “cut”, loins are prime cuts of thick and flavorful meat without the waste of skin or bones. Loins can be sold whole or cut into large pieces such as medallions, and are great grilled, baked, or sautéed.
A steak is a crosswise cut made perpendicular to the spine. Generally made from larger fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish and mahi-mahi. With a steak cut, the vertebrae, skin and bones are left intact. A very popular cut for grilling, pan-frying, broiling or baking.
The backend of the fish, closest to the tail. Normally cut and sold bone-in. Very flavorful and best seasoned and roasted.
6. Whole Fish
While whole fish may not be a cut, it is still a very popular way to prepare fish. Whole fish can be purchased either “in the round” with the head, tail and viscera still intact, or “gutted,” which means the viscera has been removed but the head is intact. Whole fish that has been “gutted” can be seasoned or stuffed and make for a striking presentation.
Blue Harvest offers a variety of fresh and frozen groundfish, including haddock, ocean perch and Atlantic pollock in a range of different cuts. To learn more, visit our products page.