Porgy also known as scup or sea bream are mainly found in the Atlantic from the coasts of Massachusetts to South Carolina. Shallow-water fishies, porgies tend to be small though some can be over 4 feet long! Porgies are so common that for a long time chefs did not utilize them for restaurant menus. For some time, they were widely known "bycatch," or fish caught unintentionally, mostly because they are slow simmers. However, their reputation as bycatch and how numerous their populations are makes them a valuable source of sustainable seafood!
Storage and Cleaning
Place your porgy/scup in the refrigerator as soon as possible!
Store the fresh fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to two days.
- To freeze your fish, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper to prevent freezer burn. Place the wrapped fish in a heavy duty freezer bag if you'd like to go the extra mile! Freezing your raw monkfish will preserve the fish for about 2 to 3 months.
For instructions on how to scale and gut your fish, you can read this guide.
- Porgies have a firm and flaky flesh with a somewhat sweet, shrimp flavor. Porgies can be fried, broiled, and baked! Check out our recipes page for inspiration!
Porgy/scup are similar to snapper in terms of cooking; you can adapt any snapper recipe for porgy/scup.
More on porgy
Porgies are a family of fish, of which one species — Stenotomus chrysops — is known as scup, or simply (and not at all confusingly) as porgy! Other porgy species include the jolthead, grass, silver, longspine, littlehead, knobbed, saucereye, whitebone, and Pacific porgies, as well as sheepshead, sea bream, and pinfish. All porgy species share an aromatic and briny taste. Their flesh is flaky and firm with a hint of sweetness.
The words “porgy” and “scup” both originally come from the Narragansett word Mishcuppaug, meaning “thick-scaled.” In northern regions, the name Scuppaug was shortened to scup, while further south the name Paugy became porgy.
Scup are silver and have iridescent blue patches above each eye. They have always been an important commercial fish from what is known today as Boston down to New Jersey, especially in the summer when the fish are especially abundant. Though they can grow up to five pounds, scup are usually caught at weights between one to two pounds. Their small size lends well to whole roasting or frying them whole in the pan (yum!). If baking, leaving the skin and scales attached will help preserve moisture and flavor. Because porgy’s thick skin is prone to curling when cooked, it can be helpful to score, or make some shallow cuts, in it first.
Porgy have been and continue to be plentiful in Atlantic waters from New England to the Carolinas. According to Barton Seaver, author of “American Seafood,” some have deemed porgy “by far the most important food fish” in early America. At various points, porgies’ abundance led to their popularity. At other points, they were considered to be too common and too bony, especially given their small size, and subsequently undervalued and underappreciated. We wholeheartedly disagree with this assessment! Porgy are sweet, light, and flaky. Plus, it’s not too hard to remove the bones or simply eat around them if you’ve cooked the fish whole.
Photo: @fishadelphia.csf, Fishadelphian packers hold freshly caught porgy.
Last updated: 1/3/2023