King Crab Legs
King crab legs . Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market.




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This glossary was compiled by THE NIBBLE EDITORS. It is updated regularly. William Lance Hunt, a freelance writer in New York City, contributed to the first version.


October 2005
Updated October 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fish, Seafood, & Caviar

Fish & Seafood Glossary

Page 7: Seafood Types Beginning With J, K & L


This is Page 7 of a 13-page glossary featuring different types of fish and seafood. Here, seafood types beginning with J, K and L, such as jellyfish, king crab, limpet and lobster. Click on the links below to visit other pages. See our 60+ other food glossaries, each featuring a different favorite food.

Click on a letter to get to another section of the glossary.

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A large subfamily of the pompanos, the jack can be found on both coasts of tropical America as far north as Cape Cod. Some of the jack family are not considered good eating, but many are excellent. The Common Jack (or Crevalle) is the most abundant of the Cavallas and is found in dense schools on both coasts in warm water. Other important jacks include the Kingfish, or King Cero; Blue Runner, or Hard-Tailed Jack; the Horse-eye Jack, found most abundantly in the tropics, where it’s reputed to be poisonous; and the Cuban Jack, or African pompano. Jacks are high-fat, with firm, mild flesh, and can be prepared in many ways.

Southern Kingfish. Photo courtesy of


A marine invertebrate with a gelatinous, umbrella-like body and long, fiber-like tentacles. The jellyfish is popular mainly in Chinese cuisines. Rarely found fresh, they are almost always dried and salted and used mainly for crunchy texture; or in long strands resembling cellophane noodles.

Photo courtesy of


A fish with delicious, mildly flavored meat that is native to Europe. The excellent flavor and texture of the John Dory are in direct opposition to its appearance. It has a flat, curved body and an unusual-looking head that is large and spiny. Pan-frying, baking, broiling and grilling are some of the cooking methods used to prepare the fish. It is rarely exported to the U.S. Good substitutes for it are flounder, porgy and sole.

  john dory
Illustration courtesy of


An enormous crab, the largest members of the spider crab family (legs on spider crabs are jointed backwards), they can grow to 10 feet, claw tip to tip, and weigh 15 or more pounds. The wonderfully sweet meat is pure white and with a delicate red exterior. As it is most abundant around both Alaska’s and Japan’s northern Pacific waters, it is also called both Alaskan and Japanese King Crab. Since it’s been overfished in Alaska, the amount of king crab caught is strictly quota-controlled.  Most of the king crab now sold in the U.S. comes from Russia.

  king crab
Photo courtesy of

Only male king crabs, which are much larger than females, are fished. Three species of king crab are fished commercially:

  • Red king crab, which can weigh as much as 20 pounds apiece, is the largest crab and the largest resource accounting for more than 80% of the world king crab catch.
  • Blue king crab, which can be distinguished from red king crab by the more pronounced dark coloring on the tip of its legs, is almost as large as red king crab. Blue king crab typically sells for the same price as red king crab.
  • Brown, or “golden” king crab, is noticeably smaller and can easily be distinguished by its uniform red/orange color on its legs (the underside of red and blue king crab legs is a creamy white). Brown king crab generally sells at a discount because it typically has a lower meat content.

King crab quality can vary widely, depending upon the time of the year it is caught. Alaska red king crab, which is mostly fished in the fall, generally has excellent “meat fill” (the amount of meat in the shell), often 90% or higher. Meat fill from brown king crab, on the other hand, which is fished in deeper waters year-round, can be less than 80%. In Russia, where there are two seasons, the meat fill can vary widely. Russian crab from the winter fishery (January through April) is normally quite good. The meat fill of Russian king crab caught in the late summer and early fall fishery can be inconsistent.


A gastropod with a distinctive pointed, Chinese hat-shaped shell, limpets can be found, like barnacles, clinging to rocks. Rarely found outside of coastal areas, and even there only in specialty markets, the meat can be eaten raw, or lightly sautéed. Like most seafood, it must be cooked lightly to prevent toughening.

Photo copyright Steven Moore.


Neither a cod nor a ling, a lingcod is an exceptionally good eating fish, a favorite of West Coast chefs, many of whom prefer it to halibut. Lingcod probably were named by European fishermen who thought the long, thin fish looked like their native ling and had the white flesh of a cod.

Photo courtesy of

Found from Alaska to California, lingcod are actually members of the greenling family (Hexagrammidae), which includes sculpins and scorpionfish. In the kitchen, lingcod are a very versatile fish, with a beautiful white, flaky flesh. In the Pacific Northwest, lingcod is the favorite fish to fry in the best fish ’n chips restaurants.


There are two species of clams called littlenecks:

  • On the East Coast, Little Neck after Little Neck Bay on Long Island, a quahog less than 2 inches in diameter.
  • On the West Coast, Pacific littlenecks.

Both of these hard-shell clams measure less than 2 inches across. They’re usually eaten on the half-shell.

  little neck clam


Years ago, lobsters were considered a trash fish, and in the Northeast U.S., strict limits were placed on how many were allowed to be fed to workers. Today, those same trash fish command $18.00 a pound in restaurants. There are two major varieties: those with and those without claws. With claws, the most common is the U.S. is the Maine Lobster, also called the American lobster. In Europe, it is the European lobster. Both have 5 pairs of legs, one of which forms their distinctive claws. The European lobster is smaller. The second major variety is the clawless lobster, the suppliers of most lobster tails. They are known as Spiny or Rock lobsters. Live lobsters can be found year-round, and should be cooked live or quickly after death. Whole lobsters are best steamed, boiled or broiled. Whole cooked lobsters and precooked frozen and canned lobster meat are available, as well as frozen, raw Spiny lobster tails. Females yield coral (eggs) in the spring. Many consider the lobster’s tomalley (liver) a delicacy. The Chic or Chicken lobster, about a pound, is the smallest lobster allowed to be sold in the U.S. It takes an American lobster 4 to 7 years to grow to one pound. The “scream” heard when placed in boiling water is simply air escaping from the lobster’s body as it expands from the heat.  See also spiny lobster.

American Lobster, also called Maine Lobster (Homarus americanus), has been a major resource throughout New England and Atlantic Canada since colonial times. Today, thanks to careful handling and sophisticated shipping techniques, American lobster is enjoyed from Boston to Beijing. American lobsters are found from North Carolina to Labrador, with Maine and Nova Scotia typically being the biggest producers. Photo courtesy of


Continue To Page 8: Seafood Terms Beginning With M

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