are hundreds of species of porgies that live in ocean waters
around the world. In the Northeast the most common porgy is
also known as "scup". This name is derived from the
Narraganset Indian word mischcuppauog. Early settlers
abbreviated the word to scuppaug and eventually shortened it
further to scup.
Scup are small
silvery fish with prominent scales, a rounded body that is
relatively flat in thickness, which makes it an excellent
panfish. Scup live in coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean
between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras . They travel in schools
with the young coming close to land in only a few feet of
water while the larger fish prefer deeper waters five to six
miles from shore. Scup prefer smooth to rocky bottoms and feed
on a variety of crustaceans, young squid, fish fry, and
whatever invertebrates are available. Scup migrate in schools.
They move northward and shoreward in the spring and offshore
and southward in the fall. Times of peak local availability in
New York coincide with these migrations. Locally caught
porgies are most abundant during the spring from April to June
and again in the fall from October to January. A significant
portion of the annual catch of scup in New York and the
Northeast is taken by sport fishermen.
generally sold in the marketplace as whole fish averaging 1
pound or less. They have delicious lean and flaky flesh, but
also contain many bones, which makes them difficult to fillet.
As a result, scup are generally cooked whole. They should be
scaled and dressed before cooking, or large ones can be
filleted. Your local retailer will be happy to scale and dress
this local delicacy for you. Scup or porgies are delicious
when pan-fried, grilled, steamed, baked, broiled or even deep
fried. Simple preparations that complement scup's mild flavor
are best. After dressed porgies are cooked, the meat can be
easily lifted free of the backbone just before serving if
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