Words to make buying fish 'less scary' unveiled
October 19 2012 Lewis Smith
Plaice, soft texture, medium taste, according to Seafish guide
Fruity, beery and corky may not be quite the way to describe a plate of fish but seafood needs a lexicon of descriptive terms just as wine does, an industry body is urging.
As part of its attempts to make seafood a more popular choice for consumers, Seafish is developing a simple guide to the texture and taste of fish.
It wants to persuade diners to be more adventurous and to try different species rather than stick to the top five most popular types of seafood – cod, haddock, salmon, prawns and tuna.
Maureen Reynier, a market researcher who carried out analysis for Seafish, said fish is widely recognised as a healthy choice yet many people have little idea how to cook or prepare it.
“Generally, people are very interested in finding practical ways of eating more fish,” she said. “There is still a lot of ignorance out there about how to cook fish, which is one reason why when people eat out they eat more fish because they know the restaurant knows what it’s doing.”
A lexicon is seen as a means of demystifying the art of serving up seafood because it will enable consumers to understand how the fish they buy differ in taste and texture.
Words that will be included include mild, medium, bold, savoury and sweet to indicate the flavour, while texture will be represented by soft, medium, firm, meaty and flaky.
The terminology Seafish has compiled is intended to be easy to understand rather than offering, as the wine lexicon does, scores of terms for the cognoscenti to savour.
The new fish lexicon is designed to be used on labels to allow consumers to know at a glance what they can expect from a fish. It is intended to be used alongside pictoral symbols to indicate how the fish or shellfish should be cooked – roasted, fried, or poached, for example – and for how long.
The lexicon was put together after workshops were held with consumers and chefs who were asked to describe the taste and texture of 30 species of fish.
Karen Galloway, head of marketing at Seafish, said: “Seafish began working on the Lexicon as a result of research findings which highlighted consumers lack of knowledge and understanding on the diversity of the taste and flavour and their need for some reassurance when buying fish.
“Using simple symbolism and an all encompassing language to describe the flavor and texture of seafood, we hope that the Seafish Lexicon will encourage individuals to try different types of fish and gain more confidence when cooking seafood.”
The icons are expected to be launched either late this year or early next year and Seafish hopes they will be adopted by supermarkets and other retailers, restaurants and wholesalers.
The taste sessions at the workshops were an eye-opener for some participants. One commented: “For me, the cod and the coley were very similar and I would definitely consider using coley more in a dish. In a curry or a fish pie whereas I wouldn’t have done before.”
Another said:“A lot of the fish seemed interchangeable so you could use a cheaper version or if one was not available you could buy another one.”
How some of the most popular species are likely to be described, in order of species, texture, taste:
Cod: medium mild
Haddock: medium mild
Plaice: soft, medium
Coley: medium mild
Pollock: medium, mild
Lemon sole: soft, mild
Salmon: firm, medium
Sea bass: firm, medium
Atlantic Prawns: firm, bold
Tiger and king prawns: firm, medium
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