Fresh Florida Seafood | Seafood

BLUE CRAB

The blue crab, one of the most valuable crustaceans in the United States, is aptly described by its scientific name, Callinectes sapidus (Calli--beautiful; nectes--swimmer; and sapidus-- savory).

Blue crabs have five pairs of legs and the first pair is equipped with pincers. They have a hard shell or exoskeleton which is brownish-green or dark green and drawn out on each side into a long spine. The underside of the body and legs are white. Male and female claws are various shades of blue on top and the tips of the female’s claws are bright red.

Blue crabs are found along Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A shallow water crab, it can live in salt, fresh and brackish waters of bays, sounds, channels and river mouths. They are omnivorous, feeding on plants and animals. During the winter months, blue crabs move into deeper water and enter a state of semi-hibernation. They are harvested by dredges, trawls, pots, trotlines and dipnets and can be purchased live or fresh steamed. If purchased live, they should show movement. Discard dead crabs.

It is also available as fresh and pasteurized crabmeat that is packed and priced according to the size and integrity of meat pieces and chunks. Meat types include: jumbo, lump or backfin, special, flake, regular or deluxe, claw, cocktail claws and mixed.

The process of molting allows the crab to shed its external shell periodically in order to grow. Before molting begins, a new soft-shell forms inside, and the crab backs out of the old loose shell. Soft-shell blue crabs are hard blue crabs that were captured when they were ready to molt (called peelers) and held in water-filled trays until their old shell has shed. They are available live, fresh or frozen.

Fresh crabmeat should be stored below 35 degrees F and has a shelf life of 10-14 days from
the date of packaging. Pasteurized crabmeat is heat treated and packed in hermetically-sealed containers and can be refrigerated at 32 degrees F for at least six months, provided the hermetic seal is not broken. When the seal is broken, the contents will have the same shelf life as fresh crabmeat. Fresh soft-shell crab should be refrigerated and prepared within a few days. Frozen soft-shell crabs will retain excellent quality for six months.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--90; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--80 milligrams; sodium--320 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--19 grams; calcium--10% DV*; iron--6% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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GOLDEN CRAB

The golden crab, Chaceon fenneri, is a large, non-swimming crab with a golden-cream shell that sets it apart from its close relatives, the deep-sea red crabs: snow and king. Adult males typically weigh between three and five pounds while the female is considerably smaller with limited commercial value.

A "condo" trap is one of the most effective means of harvesting the golden crab. This is a large (2 1/2’ x 4’ x 6’) box-type wire trap with a bait holding cylinder and two tapered openings located at opposite ends. Traps are set by using a long-line at depths of 540-2160 feet off the East Coast and 1140-2880 feet in the Gulf of Mexico north of the Florida Keys. The large traps are retrieved by grappling hooks and mechanical pulleys.

The white meat and delicate flavor of this exotic crab lends itself to a wide variety of seafood tastes. The preferred way to prepare golden crab is steamed and served with melted butter. It can also be used in recipes which call for blue crab, stone crab, shrimp and in many lobster recipes. Generally, golden crab may be purchased in three forms: live, cooked halves or clusters and picked meat.

The meat is found in the claws, legs and body after the upper shell and gills have been removed. To pick clusters, use a twisting motion to pull legs and claws from the body and remove the meat which pulls out of the body. Pull meat out of the legs by carefully breaking the joints; remove claw meat by pulling out the moveable pincer. Any remaining meat can be accessible with kitchen shears or nutcrackers. Breaking the body cartilage apart will expose the remaining crab meat.

Because this species comes from extremely deep water, it should be kept chilled below 45 degrees F until cooked. The shell of the golden crab does not turn red during cooking like other crabs. It remains golden buff in color. To cook live golden crab, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season to preference. Boil the crab completely submerged for 16 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.

Approximate nutritional values for 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked, edible portion: calories--80; calories from fat--15; total fat--1.5 grams; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--50 milligrams; sodium--280 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--16 grams; calcium--8% DV*; iron--2% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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GROUPER

Groupers are members of the seabass family, Serranidae, and are found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide. The Serranidae has over 400 species which are found around coral reefs and rock outcroppings of the coastal shelf. Due to their preferred habitat, groupers and other family members are accessible by hook-and-line fishing and less vulnerable to trawl fishery.

Two genera of groupers are caught throughout Florida: Mycteroperca and Epinephelus. They vary in size and weight, but are commonly marketed at 5-20 pounds. The large, white-flaked flesh contains no intramuscular bones. The skin is tough and strongly flavored and should be removed during cleaning.

Grouper can be purchased fresh or frozen. Store fresh grouper in the refrigerator at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or freeze at 0 degrees F and use within six months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Grouper lends itself well to any form of cooking. Because it is a lean fish, some basting is necessary while broiling or baking to keep the flesh moist. The heads are cartilaginous and produce a rich stock base.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--110; calories from fat--20; total fat-2 grams; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--55 milligrams; sodium-- 65 milligrams; total carbohydrate-0 gram; protein--23 grams; calcium--4% DV*; iron--6% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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MAHI - MAHI

The mahi-mahi (Cotyphaena hippurus), also known as dolphin or dorado, is one of the most beautiful fish in the sea; brilliantly colored with an iridescent bluish green and gold body, and golden yellow fins and tail. The mahi-mahi should not be confused with the mammal called dolphin. One distinguishing characteristic between mature males and females, the male has a very rounded head profile and the female`s head slopes down to the mouth.

One of the fastest swimming fish in the sea, they prefer the warmer tropical and subtropical waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Gulf Coast of Florida. Their spawning season extends from late spring through early summer. Mahi-mahi feed off shore, near the surface, on small fish, shrimp, squid, and crabs and are commercially harvested by hook-and-line.

Mahi-Mahi is an excellent food fish, and the large flaked, sweetly moist meat (and roe of the female) has exquisite flavor. The skinned meat can be prepared in virtually any cooking method: broiling, baking, frying, smoking, grilling, steaming or poaching. Be careful to avoid overcooking. When grilling, the skin should be left intact to prevent the delicate texture of the meat from falling through the grill.

Keep refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in freezer at 0
degrees F for four months. Thaw frozen mahi-mahi in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--
100; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--80 milligrams; sodium--100 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--22 grams; calcium--0% DV*; iron--6% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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OYSTERS

The cultivation of oysters began more than 2,000 years ago when Romans collected oyster seed stock near the mouth of the Adriatic Sea and transported them to another part of Italy for grow out. The Romans had such a passion for oysters that they imported them from all over the Mediterranean and European coasts.

Oysters flourish in estuaries where nutrient-rich fresh water meets the salt water and feed mainly on single-cell plants. When feeding, the oyster can pump and filter 25 gallons of water in 24 hours. Florida’s estuaries provide suitable conditions and a plentiful food supply for Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) to grow rapidly. They can reach marketable size in less than two years; whereas, it may take oysters up to six years to reach marketable size in colder northern waters. When traveling along the Gulf coast, you may see oysters being harvested commercially from small boats by fishermen using large, long handled tongs to scoop clumps of oysters from the bottom.

Oysters are high in minerals and one of nature’s richest sources of iron; eight ounces provide 13.2 milligrams or 73% of the maximum adult daily iron requirement (18 milligrams). They can be fried, baked, steamed, broiled or microwaved and can be served as appetizers, main dishes, side dishes or salads. Oyster stew attests to the delicious flavor of the cooked oyster in its own broth.

When purchasing live oysters, choose oysters that close tightly when handled. Discard oysters that remain open. Live oysters are sold by the dozen, 1z&Mac255;2 bushel, peck or bushel. They will remain alive from seven to ten days when stored in a container in the refrigerator at 35-45 degrees F and covered with the lid slightly open. Drain excess liquid daily. Do not store live oysters in an airtight container.

Shucked oysters are graded and sold according to size, the largest are "selects" and the average are "standards." Store fresh, shucked oysters on ice or in the coldest part of the refrigerator and use within five days of purchase. If oysters are purchased frozen in an airtight container, use within two months. Thaw them in the container under cold running water or in the refrigerator. Never refreeze. Home freezing is not recommended, unless oysters were purchased commercially packed in an airtight container and then they should be used within two months.

There is risk associated with consuming raw oysters for people with compromised immune systems. If you have chronic illness of the liver, stomach, blood, diabetes or other immune disorders, you are at greater risk of serious illness from raw oysters and should eat oysters fully cooked. If unsure of your risk, consult a physician.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--80; calories from fat--20; total fat--2 grams; saturated fat--0.5 gram; cholesterol--55 milligrams; sodium--190 milligrams; total carbohydrate--4 grams; protein--9 grams; calcium--10% DV*; iron-- 45% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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ROCK SHRIMP

The rock shrimp (Sicyonia brevirostris) is a deep-water cousin of pink, brown and white shrimps. But due to its hard exoskeleton or shell, it did not have the large market and popularity as its cousins until a machine was invented that would split the tough shell and devein the shrimp. Now rock shrimp are widely available fresh or frozen, whole, headless, shell-on, peeled, round, split or deveined.

Similar to deep-sea lobster, rock shrimp live, spawn and are harvested in 120 to 240 feet of water. Harvesting is done with reinforced trawl nets throughout the year.

When handled properly, rock shrimp have transparent or clear white flesh with no discoloration. The odor of fresh rock shrimp is mild. They are sold by "count" (number of shrimp per pound) with the largest size about 21-25 per pound. Two pounds of raw tails will yield one pound of cooked, peeled and deveined rock shrimp.

To clean rock shrimp use one of these methods. For broiling in the shell: place the rock shrimp on a cutting board, dorsal side down and the swimmerets up. With a sharp knife, cut from the base of the tail to the other end, but not through the shell. Gently spread the meat apart to expose the sand vein and wash under cold running water. To remove the shell: use sharp kitchen scissors to snip through the back, down the middle and to the base of the tail. Gently separate shell from flesh and remove sand vein by rinsing under cold running water. This method is recommended for boiling or sauteing.

Rock shrimp cook more quickly than other shrimp. To boil, drop in a pot of boiling salted water, stir and after 35 seconds pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. To broil, place four inches from the source of heat for two minutes or until the meat turns opaque.

Keep refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in the freezer at 0 degrees F for five months. Thaw in refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--110; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat--0.5 gram; cholesterol--140 milligrams; sodium--380 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--21 grams; calcium--25% DV*; iron--8% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SCALLOPS

The scallop, like the oyster, is a bivalve mollusk. However, unlike the oyster that attaches itself to a bed, the scallop moves about by swimming. The swimming action is accomplished by the shells snapping together which forces the water to propel it. This technique has developed an oversized muscle called the "eye". This sweet-flavored muscle is the only part of the scallop eaten by Americans, but Europeans eat the entire shucked scallop.

The name, "scallop," aptly describes the fluted edges of its fan-shaped shell. The shells of young scallops are beautiful. The outside shell is delicately colored pink and white and the inside is pearly-white with a satiny luster. Calico scallop meats vary from creamy white to light tan or pink. They measure about 1 to 2 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter.

Calico scallops (Argopecten gibbous) are harvested with trawls and dredges in the deep offshore waters of Florida’s Atlantic and northern Gulf coasts. Unlike oysters and clams, scallops do not close their shells tightly and will lose moisture unless shucked soon after harvesting.

Fresh-shucked scallops should be refrigerated on ice at 35-40 degrees F and used within two days or stored in the freezer at 0 degrees F for four months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Choose scallop meats that have a creamy color, firm texture, a mild, sweet odor and very little liquid in the package.

Scallops can be poached, sauteed, broiled, baked, or fried and should be cooked quickly to maintain the delicate texture and moisture. Choose light recipes with little or no added fat so the full flavor of the sweet, light meat will not be masked.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--100; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--40 milligrams; sodium--185 milligrams; total carbohydrate--3 grams; protein--18 grams; calcium--2% DV*; iron--2% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SHRIMP

Shrimp is the most popular and valuable seafood in the United States and hundreds of species are harvested from freshwater and saltwater. There are four species of commercial value shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic waters. They are categorized by four major colors: brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus), pink shrimp (Penaeus duorarum), white shrimp (Penaeus setiferus) and royal red shrimp (Pleoticus robustus or Hymenopenaeus robustus). The majority of the shrimp harvested in Florida are the pink species.

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans characterized by five pairs of legs, often with small pincers on the end. The first three pairs are used for walking. They have large, well-developed eyes, large swimmerets, and long antennae. Pink shrimp found along the Atlantic coast are usually brown; those found along the northern Gulf coast are often lemon-yellow; and those found in the Florida Tortugas are pink. White shrimp are grayish-white with a green, red or blue tinge on the tail and legs. Royal red shrimp are usually deep red but are sometimes grayish pink.

Most shrimp spawn offshore in deep water from early spring through early fall. Young shrimp are carried by currents into coastal estuaries to mature. In Florida, shrimp are harvested with trawls which are cone-shaped nets towed along the bottom in waters near shore. Turtle excluder devices (TEDS) and by-catch reduction devices (BRDS) are used, as required by law, to minimize the capture of non-target marine turtles and fish.

Shrimp are sized and sold by count (number of shrimp per pound) either whole or headless. For example, headless shrimp of 16-20 count means there are 16 to 20 headless shrimp per pound. Counts for headless shrimp range from under 10 (the largest shrimp) to 300-500 (the smallest).

Shrimp are available in a variety of fresh or frozen product forms. The most common form is "green headless" (raw, head-off, shell-on). "Peeled shrimp" (shell removed) are sold in a variety of forms including "PUD" (peeled undeveined), "P&D" (peeled and deveined) and "Tail-on" (peeled with the tail fin and adjacent shell segment left on). Individually quick frozen (IQF) cooked shrimp products are available in a variety of product forms: breaded and unbreaded.

Shrimp are an excellent source of high-quality protein and are low in fat. Shrimp are easily prepared by the following methods: boiled, broiled, baked, grilled or fried. Store fresh shrimp in the refrigerator at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in freezer at 0 degree F and use within six months. Thaw shrimp in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--120; calories from fat--15; total fat--1.5 grams; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--155 milligrams; sodium-- 170 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--23 grams; calcium--6% DV*; iron--8% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SNAPPER

Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), found off Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, is one of the best known and desired deep-sea delicacies. Snappers are caught in waters 60 to 200 feet deep using large electrical and manually powered reels with multiple-hook rigs. The red snapper industry began in 1870 in Pensacola, Florida, by an enterprising New Englander.

Adult red snappers are easily distinguished from other red-colored snappers; they are deeper bodied, not as streamlined and have a bright red iris. The back and upper sides vary from pink to red and the lower sides and belly are lighter in color.

Snappers prefer irregular hard bottom formations of rock and limestone covered with coral and sponges. They feed on a variety of bottom dwelling crustaceans and small fishes. The growth of this species is slow; however, it can weigh as much as 30 pounds and grow to 3 feet. They reach sexual maturity after age two and spawn between June and October.

The moist, white flesh of the red snapper has a delicate sweet flavor. It is sold fresh or frozen and can be served broiled, baked, steamed, poached, fried or grilled.

Store fresh snapper in the refrigerator at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or freeze at 0 degrees F and use within six months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw edible portion: calories--110; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--45 milligrams; sodium--70 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--23 grams; calcium--4% DV*; iron--0% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SPANISH MACKEREL

Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) are members of a large family of fish that include the tunas and other mackerels. All of these fish, although varying greatly in size, have many common characteristics and are fast, powerful swimmers.

Spanish Mackerel are beautifully colored fish. Their slender, graceful bodies are dark blue on the upper part, paling to almost sliver on the belly. The distinguishing marks are the many small yellow, or olive, oval spots above and below the wavy lateral line on the sides.

Spanish Mackerel are considered coastal pelagic finfish. They form immense, fast-moving schools in the open seas of the Atlantic ocean from New York to the Gulf of Mexico. In the late summer and early fall they migrate southward to spend the winter and early spring along Florida`s southern coast. Because Spanish Mackerel do not move freely around the Florida Keys, two separate populations are created, one in the Gulf and one off the southeastern states. They feed on small fish, shrimp and squid and are commercially harvested by a cast net, hook-and-line and beach or haul seine net. The average fish caught is about 2 to 3 pounds.

Spanish Mackerel are available as whole, dressed, fillets or steaks and fresh or frozen. It is an excellent food fish. Although suitable for frying, they are best broiled, smoked, steamed or poached.

Keep refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days, or store at 0 degrees F in freezer for three months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--150; calories from fat--50; total fat--6 grams; saturated fat--2 grams; cholesterol--85 milligrams; sodium--55 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--23 grams; calcium--0% DV*; iron--2% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SPINY LOBSTER

The spiny lobster (Palinurus argus) is a crustacean related to crabs, shrimp, crayfish and the Spanish lobster. Common names include crawfish (this is not the freshwater crawfish) and Florida lobster. In Florida, the spiny lobster is caught off the Keys and around the southern tip of the state from waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida Reef Tract.

The spiny lobster is characterized by numerous spines on the body, two large hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs. It has mottled coloring of yellow, brown, orange and blue markings over the body and tail. The tail is segmented and can be rapidly curled under the body to propel the lobster backward.

Like all crustaceans, the spiny lobster molts or sheds its shell to grow. Its diet consists of clams, snails, seaweed and small marine organisms. Lobsters form a single line, called "marches," and move from shallow to deep water during seasonal migration.

Spiny lobsters are harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and are usually landed live. They are marketed as whole lobster, lobster tails, split tails and lobster meat. These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked. The term "green" is used to refer to raw lobster.

An uncooked spiny lobster shell turns a bright red-orange when cooked. Spiny lobster tails can be boiled, steamed, grilled, deep-fried or broiled. The meat can be removed from the shell and used in many recipes.

Spiny lobster should be refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and used within two days or stored in freezer at 0 degrees F for up to six months. Thaw frozen lobster in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw edible portion: calories--90; calories from fat--15; total fat--1.5 grams; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--120 milligrams; sodium--140 milligrams; total carbohydrate--1 gram; protein--18 grams; calcium--6% DV*; iron--8% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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STONE CRAB

Florida`s regulatory agencies consider three species of crab to be true Gulf of Mexico stone crabs; Menippe mercenaria, Menippe adina, and the interbreeding hybrid of the two species. Stone crabs differ from blue crabs in that only the over-sized claws are harvested. This highly nutritious meat is considered a delicacy and is usually boiled and served in the shell with a sauce. The meat resembles lobster in appearance and flavor.

Adult stone crabs are easily recognized by their oval body and two large claws. The adult body of the stone crab is dark brownish red, more or less mottled and spotted with dusky gray. An interesting feature about the stone crab is the mark on the inside of the large claw that resembles a thumb print.

Stone crabs inhabit bays and estuaries where they hide under rocks and shell fragments. When fully grown they move into shoals just below the low tide mark and dig oblique burrows 12 to 20 inches deep. Stone crabs are found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts but are commercially harvested almost entirely in Florida.

Fishery regulations specify a harvest season of October 16 to May 14. Stone crabs are captured commercially with traps which are re-baited every other day. Florida law forbids the taking of whole stone crabs. Fishermen are allowed to take claws at least 2-3/4 inches long and are required to return stone crabs safely to the water. The stone crab can regenerate its claws three to four times.

Stone crab claws are cooked immediately after harvest to prevent the meat from sticking to the inside of the shell. When purchasing stone crab claws an indication of freshness is the presence of a mild odor.

Store cooked stone crab claws in the refrigerator at 32-38 degrees F or pack in ice for up to three days. Freeze claws that are completely intact (occasionally claws are cracked during handling) at 0 degrees F and use within six months. Frozen claws will thaw in the refrigerator in 12-18 hours. Quality is lost when claws are thawed under cold running water. Never thaw at room temperature.

Approximate nutritional values for 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked, edible portion: calories--60; calories from fat--0; total fat--0 gram; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--45 milligrams; sodium-- 300 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--15 grams; calcium--4% DV*; iron--0% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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SWORDFISH

Swordfish, along with marlin, spearfish and sailfish are referred to as billfish. This refers to the sword-like projection of the upper jaw. Swordfish were first described by Aristotle who used the Greek word xiphias meaning "sword." The Romans used the term gladius which also meant "sword." The scientific name for swordfish, Xiphias gladius, is a combination of both names.

Shaped like an oversized mackerel the body is thickest in the shoulder area, tapering to the tail which is reinforced by a keel on each side. They vary in color from deep brown to black on the back and upper surface of the body to almost white on the side and lower body. The long upper jaw and snout form a flat, sharp double-edged sword which may be as much as one third the total length of the fish. They are large, aggressive fish sometimes reaching 14 feet in length and a weight of 1200 pounds.

Swordfish are found throughout the world including Florida`s Gulf and Atlantic waters. They feed on a variety of fish and squid, foraging over great depths and distance. They are formidable opponents when harpooned and have been known to pierce the sides and planks of ships with their swords. In recent years, longlines have been used to catch swordfish and have been effective.

Swordfish is available fresh or frozen and can be pan fried, baked, broiled, barbecued, smoked or poached. Keep refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in freezer at 0 degrees F and use in three months. Thaw frozen swordfish in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--130; calories from fat--35; total fat--4 grams; saturated fat--1 gram; cholesterol--55 milligrams; sodium--105 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--23 grams; calcium--0% DV*; iron--6% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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TILAPIA

Tilapia (various species and hybrids of the genus Tilapia) originated from Mediterranean and African countries and has been successfully cultured throughout the world in temperate to tropical regions. Within the last few years, production of tilapia (pronounced "tuh-laa-pee-ah") in the United States has exceeded freshwater trout. Tilapia is a hardy fish that will thrive in outdoor ponds or high-tech tank systems using several different filter types to cleanse and recycle water. The fish is fed high-quality, grain-based pellets to produce a mild flavored fillet. Florida has a wild fishery of tilapia found in Central Florida lakes and Tampa Bay’s brackish water estuary that are sold in regional seafood retail shops as
fresh, gutted fish.

Similar in appearance to bream, tilapia are produced with a wide range of skin colors, black to dark blue to brilliant golden red. Much of the tilapia production in the United States is sold to Asian buyers as a live product, which is generally harvested at 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. Processed tilapia is available (fresh or frozen) as gutted, headed and gutted, skin-on fillets and skinless, boneless fillets. A distinctive feature of tilapia’s palm-shaped, boneless fillets is a V-cut made in the meaty part of the fillet to remove a series of small pin bones. Fillets are sold in ranges that are 3-5 ounces and 6-8 ounces.

Tilapia’s mild flavor and medium to fine-grained flake lends itself well to all types of cooking: fried, broiled, grilled and blackened. Tilapia cooks quickly; when the flesh turns opaque white, tilapia is ready to be served.

If purchased frozen, tightly wrapped tilapia stored at 0 degrees F will retain excellent product quality for up to four months. Thaw frozen tilapia in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Thawed or fresh tilapia should be refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and used within two days.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--
110; calories from fat--25; total fat--2.5 grams; saturated fat--0.5 gram; cholesterol--55
milligrams; sodium--60 milligrams; total carbohydrate--1 gram; protein--21 grams; vitamin A--2% DV*; calcium-- 6% DV; iron--2% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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TILEFISH

Tilefish are members of the family Malacanthidae, which is a group of fish that is widespread in tropical and temperate waters. Six species occur along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Two species, the golden tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) and the blueline or gray tilefish (Caulolatilus microps), are fairly plentiful in Florida waters. The golden tilefish is the most colorful fish with a blue-green back that fades to a pearly white belly. It is touched with red and blue iridescence, highlighted by irregular yellow-gold spots and ocean-blue under the eyes. Combined with these colorful markings is the adipose flag or crest on the head. The blueline tilefish is similar in taste to the golden tilefish, but it is not as colorful and lacks the adipose flag.

Along the southeastern coast and in the Gulf, tilefish live in burrows and sometimes congregate in pods or small groups at depths ranging from 200 to more than 1400 feet. As tilefish become larger they tend to live at greater depths. Tilefish do not school, but group in clusters near the heads and sides of submarine canyons along the outer continental shelf. The predominant fishing method is longlining with the greatest catch taken during the daylight hours. Adults weigh an average of 10-25 pounds.

Tilefish have firm, tender meat which is best compared to grouper. Their flavor is contributed to a diet consisting of crustaceans such as lobster and crabs. Tilefish can be cooked in a variety of ways: broiling, smoking, baking, frying and poaching.

Keep fresh tilefish refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in freezer at 0 degrees F for up to eight months. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--110; calories from fat--15; total fat--2 grams; saturated fat--0 gram; cholesterol--55 milligrams; sodium--75 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--22 grams; calcium--2% DV*; iron--2% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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YELLOWFIN TUNA

Tuna, one of mankind’s most ancient and honored foods, were pursued by fishermen hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Ancient Greeks referred to tuna as "thunnos" and admired them because they are large, fight hard, and are an excellent food fish.

Torpedo shaped and beautifully colored, the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is a member of the very large mackerel (Scombridae) family. They are one of the world`s most important food fish. They are pelagic and restlessly roam the deeper offshore waters of Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Tuna travel in schools and are rapid swimmers feeding primarily on fish, squid, crab larvae and shrimp.

Yellowfin tuna can weigh up to 400 pounds but average weights are smaller in commercial catches. In Florida they are commercially harvested exclusively with hook-and-line which makes the fishery "dolphin safe."

This tuna is a rich source of protein. The light and mild-flavored meat can be cooked in a variety of ways: smoked, grilled, blackened, baked, broiled or sauteed; overcooking reduces moisture and flavor.

Store in the refrigerator at 32-38 degrees F and use within two days or store in freezer at 0 degrees F and use in four months. Thaw tuna in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portion: calories--130; calories from fat--20; total fat--2 grams; saturated fat--0.5 gram; cholesterol--50 milligrams; sodium--70 milligrams; total carbohydrate--0 gram; protein--26 grams; calcium--0% DV*; iron--4% DV.

*DV means Daily Value.

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