When buying seafood, talk to your fishmonger, says David Pilat, Whole Foods Market's global seafood buyer. Ask when the fish came in, where it's from, how it was caught, and whether it's sustainable. If you can't find it fresh, much fish today is flash-frozen as soon as it's caught, so quality is high. Here's more on specific fish found in our recipes and those common to U.S. markets and restaurants.
These small oily fish spoil easily, so they’re traditionally preserved in vinegar or salt (sometimes with the addition of sour cream), smoked, or canned and labeled as sardines, pilchards, sprats, or silds.
Tender littlenecks (seven to ten a pound) are great raw or in pasta. Cherrystones (five to seven a pound) and razor clams can be sautéed, broiled, baked, or, as with soft-shell clams, steamed. Large quahogs (two to four a pound) soften in chowder, while the siphons of huge geoducks are best cured. There are lots of sustainable options.
Sustainable varieties—sold fresh as steaks and loins, or processed for canning—include U.S. pole- and troll-caught bigeye, albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack. Coveted for sushi, the fatty, red-fleshed bluefin has been overfished.