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Aberdeen Cut: A rhombus-shaped cut from a block of frozen fish; sides may be squared off or cut with a tapered edge. Usually breaded/battered. Also called diamond cut, French cut.
Ahi: Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna.
American Cut: Fish portions or fillets with tapering or beveled edges, rather than square-cut sides. Also called Dover cut.
Anadromous: Fish that swim upstream into freshwater rivers from the sea for breeding, such as shad and salmon.
Aquaculture: The regulation and cultivation of various types of fish for human consumption. Fish farming utilizes scientific methods to insure maximum production and high quality, while keeping costs competitive with wild product. In the U.S., most of the commercial freshwater trout, shrimp, salmon and catfish we consume are farmed.
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Battered: Product covered in liquid mixture, usually egg and flour. This is usually partly cooked (pre-cooked) to set the batter in place before freezing.
Belly Burn: A condition where the rib bones protrude into the belly cavity. It usually indicates soft flesh, and shows that the fish was not totally fresh when processed or not properly eviscerated.
Bites/Bits: Small pieces of fish breaded or coated with batter, weighing less than 1 oz. each. Shape may be round, square, or irregular. May be cut from regular blocks or blocks of minced fish. Also called cubes, nuggets, petites, tidbits. Generally sold by count, 25-35 per lb.
Bleeding: Method in which fishermen remove blood from fish by cutting an artery. Large meaty fish like tuna are routinely bled before further processing. Skates and sharks are also bled to remove uric acid.
Block: Frozen fish blocks are rectangular or other uniformly-shaped masses of cohering fish fillets or a mixture of fillets and minced fish flesh, or entirely minced fish flesh. These blocks usually range in weight from 13 to 16 lbs. and are intended for further processing into fish sticks and portions. Larger blocks may be available that contain whole dressed fish for subsequent thawing, processing or resale.
Boned/Boneless: Term used by packer to indicate that product has been processed to remove backbone and rib bones.
Brine Freezing: Freezing seafood by soaking in liquid brine. King crab or snow crab is often brine-frozen.
Breaded: Product covered in liquid dip, bread crumbs and seasonings. The breading forms a jacket within which the product cooks gently. Breading helps to retain moisture in the product during cooking, and also adds contrasting texture and flavor to the product.
Bushel: Unit of measure equal to 8 gallons or 32-quart capacity. Often used to measure quantity of clams, oysters or crabs.
Butterfly Fillet: Fish is cut along both sides with the two pieces remaining joined by the skin of the back. Technically, two pieces held together with the belly skin is called a kited fillet.
Butterfly Shrimp: Peeled and deveined shrimp with the shell left on the last (tail) segment. Shrimp in this form is often breaded.
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C&F: Shipping term for cost and freight. When quoted, a C&F price means price delivered.
Calamari: A culinary term for squid prepared as food.
Caviar: Sturgeon eggs which have been preserved in salt. Caviar comes in many grades and types and must be transported and held fresh at temperatures between 25F and 30F. (See Roe)
Cello Wraps: Fillets wrapped together in cellophane or polyethylene film. Each wrap is usually labeled with the type of fish, the packer and the brand. Six polywraps per 5-lb. box is standard.
Chunks: Cross-sections of large dressed fish, having a cross-section of backbone as the only bone. They are similar to a beef or pork roast and are ready for cooking.
Croquettes: Patties containing a mixture of breading or breadcrumbs or other binder; usually at least 35% seafood, such as combination of fish and crabmeat. May have all one kind of seafood, such as shrimp or crabmeat, or a combination. Product forms include breaded; pre-cooked or browned; I.Q.F., 2 oz. each, dry-pack.
Ciguatera: A neurotoxin found in certain types of reef fish. The toxin accumulates in the flesh as a result of eating some forms of algae, or preying on fish that eat the algae.
Crustaceans: Shrimp, crabs, crawfish and lobsters. (Also see Shellfish).
Cryogenic: Extremely cold freezing process, using liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide, often used to freeze high-value items like shrimp or soft-shell crabs.
Curing: Using salt or sugar to draw moisture from the flesh of fish or other meats to make it unattractive to the growth of spoilage bacteria. Curing was widely used as a preservation method before the advent of modern refrigeration techniques. Today, curing is used to give a pleasing flavor to fish and refrigeration is recommended to preserve this product from spoilage.
Custom Cut: A piece of fish cut to a desired size at the request of the customer.
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Dip: A number of similar chemicals are used in processing seafood to help retain moisture, and sometimes to improve the appearance by whitening. The use of dips is long established and so far as is known, harmless. It is common in other parts of the food industry.
Dragger: A term interchangeable with a fishing trawler boat. Draggers tow a large net.
Drawn Fish: Entrails, gills and scales removed. Since entrails cause rapid spoilage, drawn fish have a longer storage life.
Dressed Fish: Completely cleaned but with head on (head removed is usually called pan-dressed). Both forms are ready for stuffing and are generally cooked in one piece.
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Ex-vessel Price: Price received by fishermen for fish, shellfish and other aquatic plants and animals landed at the dock.
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Filet: French spelling for fillet (see Fillet)
Fillet: A slice of fish flesh of irregular size and shape which is removed from the carcass by a cut made parallel to the backbone, usually 2 to 12 oz. Some fillets, especially of fresh fish and those used to make up the larger frozen blocks, may be larger than 12 oz. However, for most institutional foodservice and home uses, frozen fish fillets over 12 oz. are not generally available. Special cut fillets are taken from solid large blocks; these include a "natural" cut fillet, wedge, rhombus, or tail shape. Fillets may be skinless or have skin on; pinbones may or may not be removed.
Fingers: Irregular-shaped pieces of fish, similar to a long, thin fillet, breaded or battered, raw or pre-cooked. Weight per piece varies, usually available portioned (1 to 3 oz.), or in bulk.
Finnan Haddie: A medium-sized haddock split down the back with backbone left on, then brined and hot smoked.
Fish Sticks: Rectangles of fish cut from a frozen block, usually 1 by 3 inches, weighing 1 to 2 oz. each, breaded/battered. Fish stick packs may bear grading and inspection marks. Fish sticks may also be cut or extruded from a minced fish block. Labels must, and menus should, show whether fish sticks are "minced fish" or "fillet fish" sticks.
Fletch: Large boneless fillet of halibut, swordfish or tuna.
FOB: Means free on board and a location usually follows this term. Charges beyond the termination point are the buyer's responsibility.
Formed Fillets: Portions cut from blocks in such a way that they appear to be natural fillets, although all are exactly the same size and shape.
Freezer Burn: Dehydration caused by the evaporation loss of moisture from product. It is recognized by a whitish, cottony appearance of the flesh, especially at the cut edges or thinner places.
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Glaze: Protective coating of ice on frozen product to prevent dehydration. There are laws against excessive glazing.
Green Sheet: The name by which most people refer to the Market News Reports issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service from New York.
Groundfish: Broadly, fish that are caught on or near the sea floor. The term includes a wide variety of bottomfishes, rockfishes, and flatfishes. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service sometimes uses the term in a narrower sense. The term usually applies to cod, cusk, haddock, hake, pollock and Atlantic ocean perch.
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Headed and Gutted (H&G): Have head and viscera removed before sale.
Histamines: Chemicals produced by decomposition of flesh in scombroid species (tuna, mahi mahi, mackerel) from poor handling. Not usually fatal in individuals with normal immune systems.
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I.P.W: Individual polywrapped.
I.Q.F.: Individually quick frozen. Fillets are packed IQF in 2 or 4 oz. gradations; 2-4, 4-6, 8-10, etc. Typical species packed in this manner are whitefish, sole, cod, and Pacific rockfish. Shrimp are also sold IQF, breaded or not-breaded in various forms.
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J-Cut: Trimming a fillet removing both the nape and pinbones, usually the most expensive cut.
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Kg; Kilo; Kilogram: A metric weight equivalent to 2.2046 lbs. In the U.S. it is usually calculated as 2.2 lbs. Imported product is often sold by the kilogram.
Kipper: To cure (herring, salmon, etc.) by cleaning, salting and drying or smoking.
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Landings: Quantities of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic plants and animals brought ashore and sold. Landings of fish may be in terms of round (live) weight or dressed weight. Landings of crustaceans are usually on a live weight basis except for shrimp, which may be on a heads-on or heads-off basis. Mollusks are generally landed with the shell on, but in some cases only the meats are landed (as with scallops). Data for all mollusks are published on meat weight basis.
Layer Pack: Product, usually fillets, put into a carton in layers with a sheet of polyethylene between each layer of product.
Loin: The boneless portion of edible flesh cut lengthwise from either side of the backbone of a large, round-bodied fish.
Lox: Cured salmon. The curing method makes use of salt, flourings, and citric acids.
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Mellanosis: Blackening of the shell in crustacea, especially shrimp and some crabs. Mellanosis will always appear in time, but it happens much more quickly if product has not been properly handled before freezing.
Mollusks: See Shellfish.
Molting: The shedding of the exoskeleton of crustaceans in order to grow.
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Napecut Fillets: A wide angular cut from the gillcover to the vent eliminating the rib cage, or by slicing it from the fillet.
Net Weight: Net weight is the weight of the product without packing material or glaze. The problem is to determine the net weight without glaze, since most seafood will drip their own moisture for days.
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Ocean Run: Industry term for a pack of random weight and size products.
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Parasites: Worms or larvae that may occur occasionally in fish. All processors carefully inspect fish for parasites and cut out any discovered prior to shipment. Dead parasites are harmless but unappetizing.
Pasteurizing: Process of heating product sufficiently to kill most bacteria, but not enough to cook the meat.
Pelagic: Migratory species of fish that live near the surface such as tuna.
Per Capita Consumption: Consumption of edible fishery products in the U.S., divided by the total population. In calculating annual per capita consumption, the National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the resident population of the U.S. in July of each year.
Precooked: Portion which has been cooked or partially cooked so as to require only heating or minimal cooking prior to service.
Pinbones: Fine bones found along the middle of fillets.
Portion: Usually a square or rectangle, cut from a block of frozen fish. Weights vary from 1-1/2 oz. to about 6 oz. May be plain or breaded, raw or pre-cooked.
Fish portion packs may bear grading and inspection marks. Raw portions are at least 3/8 inch thick, and contain at least 75% fish. The fish from which the block is made must be fillets from only one species, skin on or skinless.
Minced fish portion is a term used for portions manufactured from mechanically separated fish flesh. Labels must, and menus should, indicate whether fish portions are "minced fish" or "fillet fish" portions.
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Quahog: A hard shelled bivalve native to the eastern shores of North America. They come in many sizes, the smallest of which are called countnecks, next size up are littlenecks, then topnecks. Above that are the cherrystones, and the largest are called quahogs or chowder clams. In R.I., Quahogs are often stuffed and referred to as "Stuffies."
Rancidity: The oxidation of the natural oil in the fish, making the fish unpalatable.
Red Tide: A reddish-colored carpet of algae that appears below the surface of the sea and is eaten by clams, mussels and oysters. The algae secrete a substance that can be toxic to humans. Fishing grounds are closed when red tide occurs, preventing the harvest of any contaminated shellfish.
Roe: Most fish species grow their eggs in a sac in the abdomen, and the roe of some species is considered a delicacy in various countries. Sturgeon roe, or caviar, is the best-known and most expensive in the U.S., but cod, herring, mullet, pollock, salmon and shad all produce roe prized by various regional and ethnic groups.
Roundfish: Refers to physical shape of the body of the fish, and is more a convenient way to group all fish other than those in the flatfish family than a scientific classification. (See Flatfish).
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Salmonella: A microorganism causing food poisoning in humans, salmonella is very common and is found on meat, poultry and rarely, seafood. Normal cooking destroys salmonella.
Scampi: Another name for large shrimp, usually about 1 oz. or larger. Outside the U.S., the term is also applied to lobster. Also a method of preparation, usually with shrimp, that includes butter and garlic.
Scrod: Also spelled schrod. Small Atlantic cod, haddock or pollock whole, 2.5 pound or less. Available whole dressed or as fillets.
Sections: The three walking legs and one claw on one side of king, snow or Dungeness crab, all attached at the shoulder.
Shatterpack: A box of frozen fish fillets separated by interleaved polyethylene sheets. Fillets can be separated by dropping the box, "shattering" the pack.
Shellfish: Two major groups of seafood are called shellfish. Mollusks include clams, oysters, mussels, conch, snails and scallops. Crustaceans include shrimp, crabs, lobster and crawfish. Squid and octopus are generally considered shellfish as well.
Skinned: Some species of fish are skinned rather than dressed, such as catfish and eels.
Sole: The term "Sole" does not define a specific species of fish. In fact, it refers to a flat, white, boneless piece of fish known as the "Fillet of the Day." Varieties include but are not limited to Yellow Tail, Grey, and Lemon Sole; these are all actually flounders.
Steak: Slices of dressed fish smaller than chunks. They yield an edible portion of about 86% to 92%. They are ready for cooking. Salmon, halibut, swordfish and other large fish are commonly processed and sold as steaks.
Stuffed Fish: Whole dressed fish which is stuffed with dressing/stuffing before cooking. Some species, such as flounder, are available in stuffed frozen form for convenience.
Surimi: The Japanese term for fish paste. Surimi is restructured fish flesh, usually pollock or some other economically-priced finfish, bound together, and flavored and/or colored. Surimi products are usually colored and shaped to resemble crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp or other more expensive seafood species, and may contain varying amounts of these shellfish for flavoring. The FDA recently approved disjunctive ("and/or") labeling for surimi, so the actual proportions of each species may be difficult to determine.
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Tails: Fish portion which resembles the tail of a fish, boneless, usually breaded or batter-dipped, raw or precooked. Weights vary from 3-1/2 to 6 oz. Sometimes the entire tail, bone-in, is breaded and frozen for sale as a "tail". The term is also applied to shrimp and spiny lobster with reference to their meaty tail sections.
Tempura Batter: A light Japanese-style batter which is becoming increasingly popular.
Ton: In international seafood sales, usually refers to a metric ton (2205 lbs.).
Tripolyphosphate (also, Sodium Tripoly, STP): A sodium-based additive used to control moisture loss. Often applied at sea to fresh-shucked scallops. Seafood with tripoly added is referred to as "wet," "dipped," or "treated."
T & T: An abbreviation used to represent Tubes & Tentacles, a common way to retail cleaned squid/calamari.
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U, V, W
Viscera: Intestines of a fish or shellfish.
Whole or Round Fish: Fish sold just as they come from the water. They must be dressed before cooking.
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X, Y, Z
Yield: The percentage of a fish that is edible or saleable.
Bugs: An industry term used to refer to lobsters.
Bullets: Lobsters that have lost both of their claws, giving them a bullet shape. Also known as a Pistol.
Chickens: Lobsters that weigh between 1 pound and 1 1/4 pounds.
Cocks: Male lobsters.
Coral: Deep red when raw and coral pink in color when cooked, this is the roe or egg sac found only in the female. They are considered a delicacy and are also often added to sauces.
Culls: A term used to describe one or no clawed lobsters. The term originated years ago when lobsters were inexpensive, and one or no-clawed lobsters were considered less desirable. They were culled (a method used to sort fish and shellfish) out from regular two clawed lobsters. These lobsters are most often sold at a discount.
Hen: Female lobsters.
Paquette: A French term used to describe a female lobster with fully developed eggs. Though illegal in the United States, they are believed to have a richer flavor commanding a higher price.
Pistol: A lobster that has lost both of its claws; also known as a Bullet.
Selects: A hard-shelled lobster generally 1 1/2 lbs.
Sleeper: A lobster that no longer has the strength to lift its own claws. This usually happens when a lobster has been out of the water too long and is near death.
Soft Shells: Describes a lobster shortly after molting its shell. These lobsters have less meat but retain their flavor.
Tomalley: The liver of the lobster. Considered a delicacy. It is greenish in color and has a very unique flavor.
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