ALSO KNOWN AS: Porgy, Maiden, Fair Maid, Ironsides, Northern Porgy
SOURCE: U.S. wild-caught from Massachusetts to North Carolina
OVERVIEW: A small and mild-tasting fish, scup has been harvested off the East Coast since colonial times. More recently, due to heavy fishing pressure and the incidental catch of scup in other fisheries, the scup resource reached relatively low levels in the 1990s. In response, federal and state fishery managers jointly implemented a number of regulations that restricted both commercial and recreational harvest of this species. They also seasonally closed certain areas to fisheries that incidentally caught scup. As a result, scup abundance increased 30-fold from 1997 to 2008. Scup was declared officially rebuilt in 2009. Today, fisheries for scup operate under measures to ensure the species is not overharvested again. Scientists monitor abundance of scup annually through surveys and work with the fishing industry on research projects to improve knowledge of the resource and the management of the fishery.
COOKING: Porgy have lean and flaky flesh, but also contain many bones, which makes them difficult to fillet. As a result, porgy are generally sold and cooked whole, after they’ve been scaled and dressed. In fact, porgy is often referred to as a “pan fish,” because its small size is excellent for pan frying or sautéing whole.