I’m a fish and seafood fan so living in the Canary Islands is a bit like being a kid let loose in a sweet shop. The fish counters in the big supermarkets on Tenerife are filled with specimens that range from monstrous to tiddlers and colourful beauties to deformed beasts.
Some are instantly recognisable, others mysterious denizens of the deep. But more often than not the names stuck into the ice beside each is not one that will be known by English speaking fish fans; something that can pose a problem when ordering pescado in one of Tenerife’s restaurants.
Often there are English translations but some aren’t always accurate. Sea bass is regularly misidentified.
To help you land exactly the fishy fellow you want on your plate, here’s our guide to some of the fish you are likely to encounter on Tenerife’s menus.
Abadejo – Pollack
Anchoa – Anchovies
Anguila – Small eels, often served with scrambled eggs.
Atún Rojo – Red Tuna, better known as Bluefin Tuna.
Bacalao – Cod
Bocinegro – Sea Bream
Bonito – Skip-jack Tuna
Boquerones – Anchovies again, but this time marinated ones.
Burro – Grunt
Caballa – Mackerel
Cabrilla – Comber
Cherne – One of the most common fish dishes on Canarian menus causes confusion as it’s sometimes described as sea bass and sometimes grouper. It’s actually Wreckfish which is also known as Stone Bass or Bass Grouper; see why the confusion? What it definitely is not is Sea Bass.
Chicharro – Blue Jack Mackerel. Santa Cruceros are named after this.
Chopa – Black Sea Bream
Congrio – Conger Eel
Corvina – Brown Meagre
Dorado – This one is often passed off as Sea Bass, but it’s Gilthead Sea Bream.
Gallo – Megrin
Lenguado – Sole
Lubina – This really is Sea Bass.
Merluza – Hake
Mero – Dusky Grouper
Morena – Moray Eel
Pez Espada – Swordfish
Pampano – Blue Butterfish
Panga – Vietnamese Cobbler
Pargo – Common Sea Bream
Rabil – Yellowfin Tuna
Rape – Monkfish
Rascacio (also cabracho or cantarero) – Scorpion fish, one of our favourites.
Raya – Ray
Rodaballo – Turbot
Rubio – Tub Gurnard
Salmón – Salmon, an easy one.
Salmonete – Red Mullet
Sama – Opinion is divided on this one, some places say it’s Red Sea Bream but it might actually be Pink Dentex which sounds like something you put in your toothbrush.
Sardina – Sardines, another easy one.
Sargo – White Sea Bream
Tollos – Often classed simply as shark on English translations, tollos is sometimes also called a dogfish which is an umbrella term for a number of small species of shark. It’s latin name identifies tollos as a common smooth hound which is a houndshark. Anyway… it’s shark.
Trucha – Trout
Vieja – Parrot Fish, a Tenerife favourite.
You’ll have noticed sea bream figures a lot. In some cases, even the English names might not be familiar, so there’s only one way to find out what it tastes like… be adventurous and order it. If it’s on a menu, it’s there for a reason.
Part II, the Real Tenerife guide to identifying shellfish on Spanish menus.