Now is a great time to cook up the best from the West Coast.

By Jamie Purviance
June 05, 2008
Becky Luigart-Stayner

In a typical seafood market, you'll find imported fish shingledbetween the pearly white shellfish and glittering fillets. It canbe hard to determine what was caught locally and what came throughcustoms a day or two before. Here's a list of the Californiaseafood most worth knowing―and cooking.


Much of California's squid catch, which exceeds 50 millionpounds each year, is frozen at the docks and shipped overseas. Butin midsummer, freshly caught and quickly cooked squid is asimpressive as any seafood, anywhere, anytime.


The Pacific Ocean is home to two types of halibut: Pacifichalibut and California halibut. The former is much bigger and alittle oilier, but because all halibut is lean, it's crucial not toovercook it. Prepared well, the flesh is firm and mildly sweet.

Dungeness Crab

Despite high demand for Dungeness crabs in recent years, thesupply in the Pacific is more plentiful than ever. Dungeness crabsare larger than East Coast blue crabs, and (good news forhostesses) one makes a meal.

Black Cod

With skin as black as coal and flesh as tender as cream, blackcod (a.k.a. sablefish or butterfish) carries the flavors ofmarinades beautifully and proves an excellent substitute foroverpriced and overfished Chilean sea bass.

Petrale Sole

True sole comes from Europe, and most of what is advertised assole in the United States is really flounder. But petrale sole, aPacific Coast fish, has no reason to apologize for its pedigree.Quick-cooking and mild, it won't overpower other ingredients.