Your Eastern Shore fishing friends serve a bluefish dish that' so delicious that you decide to make it at home. But it doesn't come out the same.
You enjoy fresh trout caught in Western Maryland by a neighbor But when you order the same thing in a restaurant it doesn't taste as good.
A friend returning from Ocean City gives you some dolphin fillets you cook them and they can't be beat. But you can't find dolphin at your local market.
Besides that you feel a little guilty about eating dolphin when you think of Flipper, the friendly and smart dolphin television star.
Answers to these questions and others can be found in the new "McClane's Fish Buyers' Guide," published by Henry Holt & Co., $12.95. The author, A.J. McClane, also wrote the "New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery," and is acknowledged to be an authority on fishing and finfish cookery.
The answers to many questions about obtaining, identifying an locating a particular fish can be found in the 157 pages of this publication with an easy-to-read and thorough index. Consider the three aforementioned problems.
First, the bluefish cookery woe. Under bluefish in this book yo will learn that it is highly perishable, must be purchased absolutely fresh, and you should buy it at seaside, or from a reliable inland market.
Snapper blues (small ones), you are advised, are generally o excellent quality, and larger fish are variable.
Prime choices are fish of under 5 pounds, whole with soft textur and moderate flavor. They are excellent smoked, but do not freeze well. Intense and robust in flavor, absolute freshness is most important of all.
BThe book also is informative about trout. For example, it explains that trout bought at a local market is not likely to be a wild one like those caught in Western Maryland. Locally bought trout is likely to be farm raised -- wild trout are strictly game fish and cannot be sold.
Farm-raised trout lack the flavor of wild ones. You will also fin there are many different kinds of trout, including sea trout, which are larger. Also some fish referred to as trout aren't even a distant relative of the species.
In that third problem. You did not eat Flipper. The book inform you that there are two types of dolphins; the fish and the mammal -- no relation.
Dolphin is usually listed as mahimahi in markets and on restaurant menus. You can double check the book's code and learn what to look for and expect in flavor, texture, flake, fat content, odor (raw), color spectrum and preferred cooking methods.
In the easily understood foreword, McClane explains what to loo for when buying and what to avoid. He goes into toxins, cooking temperatures needed to kill any potential parasites and bacteria.
You will also learn that the northern puffer -- also know hereabouts as sea squab, chicken of the sea or blowfish -- is perfectly safe to eat (and also exceptionally tasty), and not prone potentially deadly toxin problems sometimes encountered among other puffers not found in waters near us.
Something else interesting and maybe worth remembering. Th sea robins fishermen catch and discard at Ocean City are not only edible, but good -- and are sold as gurnard or grondins in Europe where they are very popular.
They are considered a must for a bouillabaisse in th Mediterranean. This is a book that takes a lot of guesswork -- and shopping around -- out of buying finfish.