Having trouble choosing your fish supper? Port Vendres Fish market, or the fish counters of major supermarkets as well as most fish shops will certainly have a few of the following fish, with which you can vary your summer menus.
Fish is quick to cook and scrumptious when fresh so it is a shame not to take advantage of the many varieties on sale here in the Pyréneés-Orientales – and of course, it helps to know what you’re eating! Here is some useful vocabulary to help you choose your little fishy on a little dishy!
PS Be careful. Really fresh fish should never smell too ’fishy’.
Aigrefin/Eglefin – Haddock
Anguille (Congre) – (Conger) Eel
Bar – Sea Bass
Cabillaud/Morue – Cod/salted cod
Carrelet – Plaice
Colin/Merlu – hake
Daurade/Dorade – Bream
Espadon – Swordfish
Lotte – Monkfish
Loup – Sea Perch
Rascasse – Scorpion Fish
Requin – Shark
Rouget – Red Mullet
Saint Pierre – John Dory
Seiche – Cuttlefish
LES FRUITS DE MER
Most shellfish in our shops today will have already been prepared, but do make sure that you discard any with broken or closed shells or broken bodies and never overcook..
Les huîtres – oysters
Traditionally eaten raw but delicious grilled with shallots and butter.
Les moules – mussels
Steamed or boiled, mussels need very little cooking, if you don’t want to end up with rubbery flesh. Discard any that fail to open fully.
Les crevettes – prawns
Boil in salted water till they turn pink. Also delicious grilled, deep-fried, stir-fried in garlic butter, or barbecued on a kebab stick.
Les torteaux – large crabs
Steam, boil or poach, but if you’re squeamish like me, better to buy already cooked, as crab is best cooked alive.
Langoustines – scampi
Boil in well-salted water for up to ten minutes. Pre-boiled langoustines should be reheated gently; or they will become tough. Grill with oil and garlic, or deep-fry in batter.
Les langoustes – spiny lobsters
Cook a spiny lobster as you would an ordinary lobster much as you would a true lobster, except of course that you must forget about getting any claw meat from it.
Les homards – lobsters
Cooked lobster can be served hot or cold and is delicious with melted butter, lemon juice or mayonnaise.
Les bigorneaux – winkles and les bulots – whelks
Steam, stir-fry or coat in breadcrumbs and fry or enjoy cold dipped in aioli.
Les amandes – dog cockles
Like a small clam, with a sweet, almost almond flavour. Rather tough after cooking
Les praires – Warty Venus or Venus Verrucosa clams !!
Warty VenusThe English name is probably enough to put you off buying these
Les violets de roche
A little like soft oysters with a pungent orange flesh which isn’t to everyone’s taste.
Les coques – cockles
Usually bought preserved in vinegar or brine so here’s your chance to try them fresh. Grill, sautèe or steam in their shells
GENERAL FISHY VOCAB
vider – to gut (lit. to empty).
(court) bouillon – stock or broth
médaillon – small, round pieces (of fish/meat)
(sans) arête – (without) bones.
en papillote – cooked in foil.
darne – fish steak/slice
décortiqué – shelled or peeled
écailler – to scale fish
A LITTLE MORE DETAIL ON SOME OF THE POPULAR FISH IN THE P-O
Loup or Bar = Sea Bass
A coastal fish much prized by line fishermen. Firm-fleshed, not too many bones, it can be grilled, barbecued or baked in a court bouillon or en papillote. Delicious cooked in white wine or served with fresh herb sauce. It is a very popular fish in Turkey so middle eastern recipes work well…
Daurade = Gilt-head Bream
It has a splash of gold on each cheek and is consecrated to Aphrodite. Perhaps because of its beauty or maybe because of its hermaphroditic tendencies. Who knows? In any case it is considered to be one of the best of the local fish. It holds its shape well and can be cooked whole, filleted or stuffed. Particularly good baked in white wine with mushrooms.
Galets for which I could find no translation and which you can see in the water when snorkelling or paddling up to your knees, are bonier and less tasty than the Loup or Daurade. They are also cheaper and well worth trying fried, grilled or barbecued.
Rouget = red mullet
Much sought after, a jolly red fish that is usually cooked without cleaning. Just de-scale, drizzle some olive oil over it, a squeeze of lemon and fry, grill or bake in the oven. Do not steam or poach.
Espadon = swordfish
Steaks of swordfish are brilliant on the barbecue, can be grilled or baked or made into a stew. Versatile, firm, tasty, a useful alternative to fresh tuna. (thon)