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Composition of Sheepshead.—
The Smelt. The smelt belongs to a family which has a number of species, some of which are very abundant in Europe, where they are highly prized even to a greater extent than in this country for food. The smelt is a small fish, very long in proportion to its breadth. The American smelt (Osmerus mordax) is found very abundantly on the Atlantic coast north of New York. Although a sea fish, it often enters rivers and becomes landlocked in lakes. It is found abundantly in Lakes Champlain and Memphremagog and many of the New England and Nova Scotian lakes. The smelt in early times was a very abundant fish.
Composition of the Smelt.-Edible portion:
These data show that the flesh of the smelt is very rich in protein, the fat falling to a very small proportion of the total edible substance.
Spanish Mackerel. This is a very highly prized fish and is eaten largely in the fresh state along the Atlantic coast. Its scientific name is Scomberomorus maculatus. The catch is subject to great variations. In early years the Spanish mackerel was scarcely known on our coast, but in the last forty years it has assumed considerable importance. Although more abundant than formerly it still commands a very high price. The weight of the fullgrown mackerel is usually from five to eight pounds, though occasionally very large individuals are taken. Jordan and Evermann speak of one which was 41 inches long and weighed 25 pounds.
In this fish it is seen that the fat is a little less than one-third the quantity of the protein.
Sturgeon. The sturgeon belongs to the family of Acipenserida. They are large fishes frequenting the sea and also the fresh waters of northern regions. Most of the species are anadromous, entering fresh water and ascending the streams in spring. There are two genera belonging to this family and 20 species that are well defined, although about 100 nominal species have been
described. The white sturgeon or Oregon sturgeon is found on the Pacific coast from Monterey north to Alaska. It ascends the large rivers during the spring, notably the Sacramento, Columbia, and Fraser rivers. Some of them are very large and their value for food and commercial purposes has only been lately recognized. They are principally valuable, however, for their eggs or roe, since it is from the eggs of sturgeon that caviar is made. The roe in the fresh state is worth from 25 to 30 cents a pound. The fresh fish are frozen and shipped to Eastern markets.
The common sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) frequents the east and north. Atlantic coast and ascends the rivers in the spring, especially the Delaware. The quantity of sturgeon taken, however, has constantly decreased for several years. The principal part of the caviar made in the United States is procured from the common sturgeon and the Lake sturgeon, which is found in the Great Lakes, the upper Mississippi Valley, and the Lake of the Woods.
Preparation of Caviar.-After the eggs have been removed from the fish, they are placed in large masses upon a stand, the top of which is formed of a small-meshed screen. On the under side is placed a zinc-lined trough, about 18 inches deep, 2 feet wide and 4 feet long. The operator gently rubs the mass of eggs back and forth over the screen, whose mesh is just large enough to let the eggs drop through as they are separated from the enveloping membrane. They thus fall into the trough from which they are drawn off into tubs through a sliding door in one end of the trough. After all the roe has been separated, the tub is removed and a certain proportion of the best Luneberg salt is added and mixed with the eggs by careful stirring with the hands. This is the most delicate part of the whole process, and the best results can be obtained by that proficiency which comes from long experience. After adding the salt, the eggs at first become dry, but in 10 or 15 minutes the salt has drawn from the eggs their watery constituents and a copious brine is formed, which is poured off when the tub becomes too full. The salted eggs are then poured into fine-meshed sieves which hold about 10 pounds each, where they are allowed to drain for 8 to 20 hours. The eggs have now become the caviar of commerce, which is put in casks or cans of various sizes. Composition of the Flesh of Sturgeon.
Composition of Caviar.
78.71 percent .17.96
Of the ash, 6.16 parts of the 7.26 present are common salt.
Composition of the Eggs of Fish.-Attention has been called to the valuable food properties of the eggs of fishes. The roe of a number of fishes is celebrated both for flavor and food value. The two most important roes are those of the sturgeon, used in the manufacture of caviar, and the roe of shad, used principally in the fresh state.
Composition of Roe.-The composition of shad roe, fresh sturgeon caviar, and pickled caviar is given in the following table:
The above data show a marked difference between the composition of shad roe and sturgeon roe, the latter being very much richer in fat and also containing a greater quantity of ash. The large quantity of ash in the pickled caviar is doubtless due to the common salt used in the curing. There is not a very great difference between the composition of the roe and that of the flesh of fish. The roe is essentially a nitrogenous food, also with a considerable quantity of fat and with a certain amount of mineral matter. It contains less water than the flesh of fish, and, therefore, pound for pound in the fresh state has a larger quantity of nutrients. Otherwise, for food purposes, there is but little difference. It is doubtless true, however, that the mineral matters of the roe are somewhat different from those of the flesh of fish in containing a larger quantity of organic phosphorus in the form of lecithin.
Striped Bass. The striped bass or rock (Roccus lineatus) is a fish of the family Serranidæ and quite common in the Potomac. It occurs commonly around the Atlantic coast. Its scientific name is Roccus lineatus. It is taken in all waters along the coast from the Carolinas to New England, and especially near the mouth of the Potomac and in Chesapeake Bay. It is a fairly common as well as one of the best food fishes at Washington and in many of the fish markets on the Atlantic coast.
Sole. The term "sole" is applied here to certain species of flounders and the two terms are sometimes used synonymously. The true soles, however, of which there are several species, belong to a distinct though closely related family. The species of flounder to which the term "sole" is generally given
is Eopsetta jordani. It occurs along the Pacific coast from Monterey to Puget
Tautog. The Tautoga onitis is one of the wrasse-fishes (family Labrida)
Tilefish. The tilefish is interesting not because of its high food value but because of the fact that it was discovered by accident in 1879 when a fisherman off the coast of Nantucket captured 5000 pounds of a fish which was new to him. The species was also new to science. This fish disappeared as suddenly as it came and no more were caught until 1892. Since then they have been taken rather frequently. The tilefish reaches a length sometimes of three feet and a weight of 30 pounds. It is pronounced by experts to be the equal of the pompano.
Trout. Trout, of which there are many species, are greatly prized both on account of their value as game fishes, affording sport for anglers, and because of their high palatable qualities. They belong to the same family as the Atlantic salmon and often it is difficult to distinguish by any of its common characteristics a trout from a salmon. This is especially true of trout of western America. The species of trout which are most highly prized on the Pacific coast are the cut-throat trout (Salmo clarkii), the rainbow trout (Salmo iridens), and the steel-head (Salmo gairdneri). The familiar silver trout of Lake Tahoe is another closely related species. They are distinguished by a remarkable system of spots of a circular form, black in color, and of varying size. The Lake Tahoe trout which is commonly secured is not the same as the silver trout of Lake Tahoe but is of a little different character, and is also known as the Truckee Trout, "Pogy," and "Snipe." It reaches a weight of from three to six pounds and is sometimes served on the dining cars of the Central Pacific Railway, in running through Idaho and into California. Various other species of the trout are found in Utah, in the Rio Grande and the Colorado, and in the lakes of Colorado. Perhaps the most important of these is the steel-head trout occurring along the Pacific coast. The rainbow trout is also a fish that is highly prized along the Pacific coast. The brook trout of western Oregon is also an important fish.
The Trout of the Great Lakes.-The fish known as trout in the Great Lakes belong to a different genus from those already mentioned, namely, genus Cristivomer. It has, however, the typical spots, which are of a grayish color
instead of red or black like those of the other trout which have been mentioned.
The principal species which abounds in the Great Lakes is the Mackinaw trout (Cristivomer namaycush). It is also found in the large lakes from Maine westward to the Pacific ocean and even to northern Alaska. This is the largest species of trout. The average weight of the fish probably does not exceed 15 or 20 pounds. Individual examples have been found weighing over 100 pounds. There is only one common fish which exceeds it in weight, namely, the sturgeon. Next to the white fish it is the most important commercial fish of the Great Lakes. The supply of lake trout has been diminishing and the price increasing for several years. The spawning season of lake trout begins in September and continues until December. Composition of Lake Trout.
The above data show that lake trout has a flesh which approximates in composition that of Pacific salmon, being quite rich in fat, while the brook trout has a composition more like the Atlantic salmon, being very rich in protein and poor in fat. Trout of all kinds are used practically in only a fresh state. The catch is not large enough to warrant the establishment of canning factories and all that are caught in the northern and central northern lakes and streams find a ready market in a fresh state at much more remunerative prices than could be obtained by canning. It is always a fortunate circumstance when the condition of the catch and of the market are such as to enable the fish to be eaten as fresh as possible from the water. Fish is a kind of food which is never improved by keeping in any way and is at its best the minute the fish is taken from the stream. The brook trout do not belong to the same genus as the lake trout but to the genus Salvelinus. They have a general resemblance, however, to that genus. As a fish to be caught by the hook and as a victim of sport the brook trout perhaps occupies the highest place among the fish of the country; especially is it sought for in the mountain streams, and it occurs in most parts of the northeastern United States. It extends from Maine to northern Georgia and Alabama, especially in the Appalachian Mountains and west through the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, while in Canada it is found from Labrador to the Saskatchewan.