The circumstances determining the taste of a fish are many and complex. Much depends on whether a fish lives in freshwater or saltwater: saltwater fish counterbalance the salinity of their environment by producing flavor-giving amino acids, including sweet-tasting glycine and savory glutamate, that milder-tasting freshwater fish lack. Fat content is also key, as polyunsaturated fatty acids are vehicles for flavor but are also quick to go rancid, meaning that oily fish must always be well iced to prevent spoilage. The degree of activity of a fish during its lifetime also affects taste: exertion alters muscle structure and, often, increases the level of oxygen-storing (and flavor-giving) pigments. Where and when a fish is caught—the temperature of the water; the types of food in the fish's habitat; whether or not the fish is spawning—influence taste, too. It's also crucial to remember that most fish reach their peak flavor after passing through rigor mortis, which coincides with the buildup of flavor-giving organic compounds in the fish's flesh. So many variables, combined with a paucity of descriptive language, make it hard to ascribe specific flavors to specific species consistently; still, each type of fish could be said to possess a basic flavor profile. Below, we've deconstructed those profiles for ten widely available species and cited the cooking methods that bring out those flavors the best.