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New England Culinary Glossary


  A B C D E F G H I J K L M

New England Boiled Dinner: A fatty corned beef brisket is boiled in water with cabbage, potatoes, and any number of vegetables -- perhaps corn or beans, carrots or celery. The liquid is drained, and the meal is served on a great platter in unadorned glory. A little sharp mustard or vinegar may be offered as a condiment.

New England clam chowder n. Soup. See Boston Clam Chowder. New England clam chowder typically contains milk or cream as its base . And is flavored with salt pork, filled with diced potatoes and thickened with flour. Usually made with chopped hard-shell clams.

New Hampshire (NH): A state in New England; also known as the granite state.

New Shell lobster: New shell lobsters have recently shed their shell and are growing into their new shells. In the summer when the waters have warmed, lobsters shed the shells that they have outgrown, exposing a new, larger shell underneath. Before shedding its old shell, a paper-thin "new shell" is formed under the old shell. The old, hard shell is then discarded, and the lobster plumps itself up with seawater in order to stretch the soft shell so that the lobster then has room to grow. You can feel the softness of the shell on the claws with gentle pressure. When the old shell is shed, the lobster is then called a New-Shell lobster. The lobster must find a place to hide for a while until the shell becomes stronger. The shell is harder than a rubber lobster, but softer than a soft-shell. New-shells usually do not get bands put on their claws because they are so soft they can't inflict any damage to the other animals in the holding tank. Indeed some shells may be so soft that the band may crush the claw. You'll rarely (if ever) find these for sale.

Norway lobster: A crustacean with large pinchersfound in greatest abundance around France, Scotland, Iceland, and Spain. Also called Dublin Bay shrimp, not because they were caught there, but because in the 1700’s fishing boats from Norway would enter Dublin buy with a big catch of them.


Omega-3s: Fatty acids found in seafood and other sources. Recent research has found that these fatty acids can have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system as well as other aspects of human health.

Quarter : A lobster weighing 1-1/4 pounds.

Oyster (oi´ster) n. Bivalve Mollusk. A bivalve mollusk with a rough gray shell. The flesh varies from creamy beige to pale gray; the flavor from salty to bland; the texture from tender to firm. Two species of oysters dominate the U.S. supply: Eastern oysters (mostly wild) and Pacific oysters (farmed). The Atlantic or Eastern oysters are considered superior to Pacific varieties. These tasty bivalves are best when plucked straight from the water, shucked, and served with a light mignonette or touch of lemon and Tabasco sauce. Because the taste of oysters is strongly influenced by the characteristics of their local waters, these species tend to be marketed by their place of origin (e.g. Wellfleet or Blue Point). We're lucky to have a variety of local versions -- the creamy but rare Ipswich Bay, the plump, clean-flavored Cotuit of Cape Cod, the tangy Belon from Maine, and the mild, crunchy Narragansett from Rhode Island.



Paquette : French term for a female lobster with fully formed eggs. The lobster is deemed most succulent at this stage and commands a high price.

Peekytoe Crab: They are classified as Cancer irroratus, also known as bay crab and rock crab. These New England crams resemble Dungeness crabs, only they're much smaller. Long reviled by lobstermen for its annoying habit of finding it’s way into lobster pots and stealing the bait, these crabs (only recently nicknamed peekytoe, probably after the Maine pronunciation of the word "picked" for the crab's toe.) It's hard to find whole crabs, but many seafood shops in New England sell peekytoe crabmeat.

Pincher claw: The smaller claw of the lobster’s claw. The pincher claw is sharp and pointed and is used to tear food. Lobsters will use the pincher to grab prey and bring
it close enough to get a hold of with the crusher. The crusher claw is larger and rounded lined with crusher “knobs.”

Pink shrimp : Pink Shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Central American waters. Their light pink shells have a pearl-like texture and some have a distinguishing pink dot on the head. When cooked, the shells turn a deeper shade of pink and the meat white with pink skin tones. The texture is firm and flavor mild.

Pistol— A Lobster that has lost both claws, usually due to predators. Luckily, lobsters regenerate their claws.

Poaching: The act of stealing lobsters from the traps of a lobsterman. Usually carried out under the cover of darkness, lobstermen have their own subtle but effective ways to deal with poachers.

Pound: A lobster pound is a storage area for holding live lobster.

Pounded lobsters : Pounded lobsters are lobsters that have been held in a fenced in intertidal area where the water level is controlled by flood gates maintaining a natural environment for the lobsters until sorted and prepared for shipping.

Pot: This is a type of trap designed to catch fish or lobsters in the form of cages or baskets. Pots are made of various materials, such as wood, wicker, metal rods, or wire netting, and have one or more openings or entrances. They are usually laid on the bottom, with or without bait, singly or in rows, and are connected by ropes (buoy-lines) to buoys on the surface showing their position.

Prawn: A prawn means any large shrimp (usually 15 or few per pound.)


Quahogs (pronounced co’hog): The word quahog comes from the Narragansett Indian name: poquauhock. The quahog's scientific name, Mercenaria mercenaria, is derived from a Latin word meaning "wages" and was chosen because Indians used quahog shells to make beads that were used as money (called wampum). Quahogs are also known as the chowder clams, usually about 3 inches or more across. Quahogs - like soft-shell clams, oysters, scallops, and mussels - are classified as bivalve mollusks because they have hinged shells made up of two halves, or "valves." They are found from Newfoundland to North Carolina, and a few are found off Northern Europe. They dwell in waters from 100 to150ft. deep. Quahogs are chopped and frozen or canned for clam fritters used in chowder.

Quarter : A lobster weighing 1-1/4 pounds.


Rhode Island
(RI): Also known as the Ocean State and Little Rhody. The smallest state in New England and one of the original 13 colonies.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder . This clam chowder is made with clear, milky or creamy chowder with just enough tomatoes added to color the broth a pinkish red.

Rhode Island Johnnycake : A corn pancake made with local white flint corn called whitecap.

River gear : This rig is used in river entrances where tidal currents can be surprisingly swift and harbor traffic is high. Other vessels frequently run into buoys and may cut them loose from the traps. It is less likely that both buoys will get cut loose. The added weight helps prevent the traps from being moved around by tidal currents.

Roe : Red lobster coral are the tiny lobster eggs. They are jet black when uncooked.

Rock Crab : The rock crab (Cancer irroratus) is one of the more commonly found crabs along the East coast of the US. The most similar crab also found in the same ecosystem is the Jonah crab (Cancer borealis), which is similar, but has rough shaped teeth along the shell. Smaller than Jonahs, rock crabs are caught mainly in the summer by inshore fishermen, while Jonahs are landed year-round by both inshore and offshore lobster boats. It wasn’t that long ago those rock crabs were nothing more than a nuisance. Lobstermen off New England and the Canadian Maritimes routinely would toss them back when they came up in their traps. But the rise in seafood prices has made it profitable to market the crabs as well as the lobsters

Rock lobster: A Rock Lobster is a spiny lobster, which has no claws and is found off the coast of Europe and in more southern waters. The spiny lobster is found in warm waters off Florida, in the West Indies, and off southern California.

Rock shrimp : The latter (Sicyonia brevirostris) is a fairly recent introduction into the American market. Rock shrimp gets its name from its hard shell. The meat of rock shrimp is very firm, more lobster- like, and lower priced than other shrimp. Rock shrimp are a deep-water cousin of the pink, brown, and white shrimp. They are fished year round off Florida's Atlantic coast and in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Rock shrimp typically do not grow to a size larger than 21-25 per pound. Most come to the U.S. market raw and peeled and deveined, since their tough, rock-hard shell is most easily removed commercially. Rock shrimp have a sweet taste and a chewy, tender texture. The cooked meat is plump and white with red skin tones.

Rostrum: Spine like projection on the front portion of a lobster.

Rubber lobster: Also called 'Jello-lobster' or 'rags'. These are lobster that have just shed their shells and the new shell has not yet hardened at all. They feel like soft rubber (hence the name) and are quite fragile.


There are seven distinct species. One kind, native to the Atlantic, six to the Pacific Ocean. The Chinook, Coho and Sockeye are also farm raised, but not comparable in flavor to wild. Salmon spawn in the Fall and Spring. They must be caught prior to reaching fresh water, while they are feeding and before they are spawning. . The pink to red flesh of these fish is rich and succulent, and is available fresh, smoked, or canned year round. Baking, poaching, and grilling are the recommended methods of cooking salmon.

Scrod (SKRAHD): term used on US EAST, primarily for small cod or young cod (and haddock) that weight less that 2.5 pounds. It is a popular fish from the Pacific and the North Atlantic with a lean, firm, white flesh. "Haddock," "hake," and "pollock" are close relatives of the cod.

Scallop (sk˘ol´ep) n. Bivalve Mollusk. Scallops belong to the genera Pecten. The name "scallop" aptly describes the fluted edges of the fan shaped scallop shell.  The prized meat of this bivalve mollusk is often served in its own fluted shell. In U.S. markets, only the adductor muscle or the “eye”, which opens and closes the shell is available. The varieties commonly found in the U.S. market are usually labeled as either “bay” or “sea” scallops, but there are actually a number of species available. Wild scallops (usually labeled as sea scallops) from U.S. and Canada waters account for two-thirds of the U.S. scallop supply

A natural scallop is the entire eye from one scallop. Cubed scallops are pieces cut from a larger eye. Scallops are often shucked right on the boat. Most scallops are frozen either raw or breaded. The New England sea scallop Placepten magellinacus is the most commercially important scallop in the United States.  It has a saucer shaped shell and grows as large as 8 inches in diameter with the muscle or "eye" sometimes reaching up to 2 inches across. Overcooking causes the delicate, buttery meat to become tough; small ones take only a few seconds, while larger ones are done within a minute or two.

Scampi - The Italian name for the tail portion of any of several varieties a small spiny lobster eaten in Europe. In the U.S., the term refers to large shrimp that are split and brushed in a garlic oil or butter, then broiled or baked. "Scampo" is the singular form.

Sea clams : Also know as a surf clam, is the largest hard shell clam. Most are chopped and frozen and used in prepared foods.

Sea scallops: The largest is caught off New England. This species provides most of our scallops.

Selects: Lobsters the weight between 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound.

Shedder: Very soft-shelled lobsters are watery with underdeveloped spongy claw meat. When a lobster outgrows its shell, it molts and discards or "sheds" the old shell. It then has a soft shell and is called a "shedder." As the lobster feeds, its shell hardens, and it adds meat to its body.

Shellfish: A broad term that refers to all aquatic animals that have a shell. This includes both crustaceans and mollusks , such as a sea scallop, lobster, Arctic surf clam, and crab or cold water shrimp.

Shorts: Also known as "sub-legals" Conservation is currently practiced through the safeguarding of lobsters less than 3¼" carapace length.  Any lobster that has a smaller carapace length of 3¼" must be returned unharmed to the sea.

Shorts on : A term used in the industry to indicate a lobsterman who has caught lobsters under or above the legal size limit.

Shrimp : Shrimp are small crustaceans that have ten legs and long antennae and is distant kin to the lobster. This ten-legged crustacean got its name from English word "shrimpe," which means "puny person." Shrimp have a thin-segmented shell covering a tapering body, and a large head about the size of the body. Caught in great numbers and one of our most popular seafoods. First we consider the "tropical" shrimp, the most common to our market. They are produced in the Gulf of Mexico and in the waters of South America, Australia, the Far East and the Persian Gulf. . Although 342 species of shrimp worldwide have commercial value, there are only a few species that are important to the U.S. market. All shrimp are divided into three basic categories: cold-water or northern; warm-water, tropical, or southern; and freshwater. You may find all three categories in your local market. Shrimp can be either wild-caught or farm-raised. Wild-caught (or “free-range”) shrimp naturally exist in bays, estuaries, and oceans. Farm-raised shrimp are grown in a more controlled environment. Shrimp eggs or larvae are either gathered from the natural environment or grown in hatcheries after being taken from female brood stock. The shrimp are then raised to maturity in shallow ponds. Farm-raised shrimp are also known as pond-raised, cultured, aquacultured, or maricultured. All shrimp is sold in these ways: Headed in the shell (actually the body), which is also called "Green Shrimp." There must be six shell segments plus the tail to be considered a whole shrimp. Less than this must be sold as "Broken" or "Pieces." P&D (peeled and de-veined) is shrimp headed and shelled with the sand vein (viscera) along the spine removed. P&D are sold cooked and individually frozen. Shrimp is also sold "Breaded." Shrimp are sold by the “count,” which is the number of shrimp per pound. With shrimp it’s the size that counts. The larger the shrimp, the more expensive. In the market, you may also see descriptive size names such as small, medium, large, or jumbo. Compare prices based on actual count per pound, not these size descriptions, for they may vary from store to store. Shrimp can be frozen individually (called IQF), or in blocks. Most shrimp sold in U.S. supermarkets and fish markets have been frozen and thawed. Shrimp are also available canned.

Shucker: Person who opens fresh clams and oysters at a food station in front of guests. 

Skipjack Tuna : Smallest of the light meat tuna but caught throughout the world. Used as chunk pack tuna.

Sleeper : Term for a lobster that is so sluggish it cannot hold up its claws. These have been out of their environment too long and are usually close to death. They should be avoided.

Snappers : Lobsters that are too small to take legally.

Soft shell Crab - The "soft-shell crab" is actually the blue crab caught just after molting (discarding its shell). This crab is found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It is sold in both its soft and hard-shell stages.

Soft Shell Clams : Soft shell clams are called steamers because they are best served that way! Wash well and place in a pot with 4 tablespoons of water. Simmer, covered, 5-10 minutes until shells partially open. Remove from pot with slotted spoon and serve in individual dishes. Dip each clam by its long neck in to melted butter, laced with lemon juice. Strain the broth and drink it, seasoned with celery salt, or mixed with tomato juice.

Spiny Lobster: The spiny lobster is found in waters off Florida, Southern California, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Unlike it's relative the American Lobster, it does not have front claws. Instead, it has spines that cover its body to help protect them from predators. It also has two long antennae used to scare off predators and smaller antennae called antennules used to detect movement and chemicals in the area. Because the Spiny Lobster inhabits warmer waters, it is caught both on a commercial and recreational basis. Also unlike their lobster relatives elsewhere, spiny lobsters seem to enjoy each other's company and often share their dens in coral reefs. One of the strangest sights ever reported is the so-called "lobster march." Often after a storm, hundreds or sometimes-even thousands of spiny lobsters will form columns to migrate en masse. Do they march in search of new breeding grounds, seeking warmer water, or hunting for a new food supply? It is still a scientific mystery why this occurs. The item marketed as “lobster tail” usually is a spiny lobster.

Soft-shell lobster : All known as a " shedder," this is a lobster that has recently shed its carapace to allow for new growth. At this stage, the yield of meat is low and its taste and texture are of lesser quality. A soft-shell lobster is harder than the new-shell lobster. The claws have hardened enough to be banded. Once cooked, the shell can usually be removed with bare hands. The only way Maine lobsters can grow is by shedding their shells and growing a new larger shell. When the shells are new, they are soft, which allows them to stretch to the new size. In the first year of a Maine lobster's life, this process occurs eight times; five times in the second year; three times in the third year. After that, male Lobsters shed their shell twice a year, while females shed only once a year.

Soft-Shell Clams : Soft-shell clam never fully closes because its neck gets in the way. Soft shell clams usually contain sand. Soak soft-shell clams (just cover, about ¼ cup salt per gallon) for a coupler of hours to rid them of remaining sand.

Squabble: Refers to a group of seagulls. You can see a 'flock' of sparrows, but you always see a 'squabble' of gulls.

Stone Crab: Latin name Menippe mercenaria, it is also called "moro" or "morro" crab. It has large, very hard claws that are prized for their meat. Most of the harvest comes from Florida, US, where it is a prized delicacy harvested from October 15 to May 15. Only the claws are eaten, so fishermen twist off one claw from crabs and toss them back to grow a new one. Crabs will regenerate their claws within 18 months. They are left with one claw to defend themselves. The law requires these claws to be boiled for 7 minutes and then either put on ice or frozen. The freezing process seems to remove an unpleasant iodine taste which is often noticed in the meat. To determine which claws have the most meat, they are floated in a tank of water, with the less meaty claws rising and being sold as "lights." To serve, the claws are cracked with a mallet and served cold with dipping sauces. Minimum size for claws is 2-2.75 ounces. The meat has a firm texture and a sweet, succulent flavor.

Steamers: Also know as soft shell clams. Steamers come in a variety of sizes, from about ½ to 3 inches across. Steamer clams are best served steamed or fried.

Stuffies: Baked stuffed quahogs are known as “stuffies” in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. Generally the quahog is used but littleneck clams can be stuffed and are perfect for cocktail parties. Whatever the size, they are usually made by mincing clam meat and mixing it with an onion, breadcrumbs and spices.

Stuffed Clams: Stuffed quahogs are often called stuffies, and the two terms are used interchangeably. The fresh-shucked clams are chopped or ground and mixed into a stuffing, which typically includes bread crumbs, Tabasco sauce, minced onions, celery, peppers and often the Portuguese sausage chourica (reflecting the influence of Rhode Island's large Portuguese population). The stuffing is then spooned back into the large clamshells and baked, resulting in a big, delicious serving. Stuffed quahogs are often called stuffies, and the two terms are used interchangeably throughout the state.

Swordfish: A large fish with the distinctive sword-like upper jaw. Caught in both the Atlantic and Pacific, they weigh 200-400 lbs. The meat is sold in chunks and steaks and is firm, not oily flesh.


Telson: A lobster’s tail

Tomalley : The liver of the lobster substance found in the lobster's carapace (body). It is greenish in color and prized for its flavor. It is often added to sauces to boost the lobster flavor. Although lobster lovers adore this rich as butter tomalley, it is best not to eat it on a regular basis since it functions are the lobster’s liver, helping protect it against pollutants.

Tote: Also 'fish tote'. A box used to hold bait fish (and just about anything else that needs stowing).

Trap: A wooden or wire cage that is baited and dropped into the water to capture live lobsters.

Trawl: A string of traps connected with line and laid with a buoy at each end. Eight- and ten-trap trawls are common.

Tray - also called a ‘tote’, a plastic bin that holds bait, lobster, or anything on the boat that needs stowing.

Triple: A set of three traps on a single buoy.

True lobster: large edible marine crustaceans having large pincers on the first pair of legs

Tubed lobsters: Are lobsters that have been held in an isolated cage in an enclosed system to protect each lobster and maintain its fresh caught quality.

Tuna (to¯¯o´ne) n. Fish. The number one U.S. seafood. Canned in either oil or water with a small amount of fresh and frozen sold. There are four distinct species caught off the southern U.S. coast and the coast of Central and South America. They are difficult to catch because of their speed. The species are:




( VT): A state in New England; also known as the Green Mountain State.

V-tail or V-notched lobster: A V-Tail is a small v shape cut in the second left flipper to mark breeding female lobsters. V-notched lobsters, if found, must be thrown back; regardless of whether they are carrying eggs at the time or not. See berried female. This is done to help identify breeding lobsters and keep them producing while culling those females that do not produce. Not all states do this. Maine was the first to put it into practice. The notches eventually grow out after several molts.


Walking legs: The four pair of appendages that allow a lobster to be mobile on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Warm water shrimp: These are the most popular and plentiful shrimp on the U.S. market. Warm-water shrimp from the Gulf States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas represent the overwhelming majority of domestic shrimp landings in the U.S. Most Warm water shrimp are categorized by the color of their shell (not the meat) when raw: White, brown, pink, and black tiger. Another warm water shrimp, rock shrimp, are so named because of their hard shell. White and black tiger shrimp can be wild-caught or farm-raised.

Wellfleet Oysters: Oysters are named after the bay they’re harvested from, and Cape Cod Wellfleets are some of the most prized in the world

White shrimp : The main type of warm water shrimp consumed in the U.S are white shrimp and are both wild-caught and farm-raised. For example, in the United States, white shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeast Atlantic coast. The aquaculture industry in the U.S. has grown in the last decade. Mexico has a large white shrimp fishery on the Pacific coast. This shrimp is famous for its sweet taste and firm texture. And, like the U.S., Mexico catches white shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico’s aquaculture industry is growing rapidly; Ecuador is currently one of the largest producers of farm-raised white shrimp. China and India produce both wild-caught and farm-raised white shrimp. These five countries (U.S., Mexico, Ecuador, China and India) supply the majority of white shrimp consumed in the U.S. White shrimp have grayish-white shells that turn pink when cooked. (The shells of farm-raised white shrimp are lighter grayish-white and from some origins, the shell is not as thick as wild-caught whites.) The thinner shell is the result of feed composition as well as growth in captivity.

Whoopie Pie : Two cake like chocolate shells with fluffy cream filling. Remember these tasty chocolate sandwich cookies as a kid? Whoopie Pies are one of Maine's best known and most loved treats. You can find them in many local convenience stores. A tall glass of milk is a must.

Wrinkles : Periwinkles pickled in white vinegar; indigenous to Maine.



Yankee Pot Roast -
A "pot roast" is a piece of chuck or round cut that is browned, then braised very slowly in a covered pot with a little liquid. A "Yankee pot roast" includes vegetables that are added part way through the cooking process.

Yellowfin Tuna : Also known as Allison Tuna and Ahi (Hawaii). This wild tuna is of one the most abundant of the tuna species and is found in tropical and temperate waters.