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Fish and Seafood of the Mediterranean

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When buying fresh fish, bright eyes, fresh red gills and firmly attached scales are signs to look out for.

Red Mullet

Very popular along the coasts of the Mediterranean, the red mullet is a pretty fish.

How to Cook Red Mullet
It is usually treated simply by grilling over a wood fire, often with the liver still inside to add flavor.

Salt Cod

Most salt cod is prepared in Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland and then exported to Mediterranean countries.

How to Cook Salt Cod
It looks very unappetizing, and has a pungent smell, but after being soaked for 48 hours and cooked in the Mediterranean style, it is delicious.

Sea Bass

This is quite an expensive fish and is usually sold and cooked whole.

How to Cook Sea Bass
The flesh is soft and delicate and needs careful attention when cooking. Methods include poaching, steaming, grilling and baking.

Squid

Popular in the Mediterranean region, particularly in Spain, Italy and Portugal, squid vary in size.

How to Cook Squid
Tiny specimens can be eaten whole, and larger varieties are good for stuffing, grilling or stewing. The flesh is sweet and, when carefully cooked, tender.

Swordfish

This delicious fish is widely available throughout the Mediterranean. Swordfish steaks can be very large, so do not automatically order one per person.

How to Cook Swordfish
Brush them with oil when grilling.

Tuna

An oily fish belonging to the same family as the mackerel. The flesh, which is sold in steaks or large pieces, is dark red and very dense, and has a tendency to dry out when cooked.

How to Cook Tuna
Marinating before cooking helps to keep the flesh moist, as does basting while cooking. Tuna can be baked, fried, grilled or stewed.

Crab

There are thousands of species of crab around the world. In the Mediterranean countries, brown and spider crabs are the most common. The meat of the crab is divided into two sorts – brown and white. Crabs are often sold cooked and dressed, which means that the crab is ready to eat. Choose cooked crabs which are heavy for their size and therefore meaty.

Mussels

Available in the Mediterranean through the winter, mussels usually need to be scrubbed and have the beard – the hairy tuft attached to the shell – removed. Any open mussels should be discarded if they do not close after a sharp tap, as this indicates that they are old and therefore should not be eaten. Mussels vary in size from very small to quite large, and the shell can be blue-black to dappled brown.

How to Cook Mussels
They are easy to cook – just steam for a few minutes in a covered pan. Discard any that fail to open after cooking.

Prawns

These vary enormously in size. The classic Mediterranean prawn is very large, about 8 inches (20 cm) long and reddish brown in color when raw.

How to Cook Pawns
When prawns are cooked over a fierce heat, such as a barbecue, the shell is often left on to protect the flesh from charring. Prawns can be bought ready-cooked and frozen. Mediterranean prawns are a treat. Cooked fresh from the sea, with garlic and olive oil, they are delicious.