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COMPOSITION OF FISH

As is well known, fish is an extremely perishable food. Therefore, when it is caught in quantities too great to be used at one time, it is preserved in various ways. The preservation methods that have proved to be the most satisfactory are canning, salting and drying, smoking, and preserving in various kinds of brine and pickle. As such methods are usually carried out in the locality where the fish is caught, many varieties of fish can be conveniently stored for long periods of time and so distributed as to meet the requirements of the consumer. This plan enables persons far removed from the Source of supply to procure fish frequently.

COMPOSITION AND FOOD VALUE OF FISH

COMPOSITION OF FISH 5. COMPARISON OF FISH WITH MEAT.

--In general, the composition of fish is similar to that of meat, for both of them are high-protein foods. However, some varieties of fish contain large quantities of fat and others contain very little of this substance, so the food value of the different kinds varies greatly.

As in the case of meat, fish is lacking in carbohydrate. Because of the close similarity between these two foods, fish is a very desirable substitute for meat. In fact, fish is in some respects a better food than meat, but it cannot be used so continuously as meat without becoming monotonous; that is to say, a person will grow tired of fish much more quickly than of most meats. The similarity between the composition of fish and that of meat has much to do with regulating the price of these protein foods, which, as has already been learned, are the highest priced foods on the market.

PROTEIN IN FISH. --In fish, as well as in shell fish, a very large proportion of the food substances present is protein. This proportion varies with the quantity of water, bone, and refuse that the particular food contains, and with the physical structure of the food. In fresh fish, the percentage of this material varies from 6 to 17 per cent. The structure of fish is very similar to that of meat, as the flesh is composed of tiny hollow fibers containing extractives, in which are dissolved mineral salts and various other materials. The quantity of extractives found in these foods, however, is less than that found in meat.

Fish extracts of any kind, such as clam juice, oyster juice, etc., are similar in their composition to any of the extractives of meat, differing only in the kind and proportions. In addition to the muscle fibers of fish, which are, of course, composed of protein, fish contains a small quantity of albumin, just as meat does. It is the protein material in fish, as well as in shell fish, that is responsible for its very rapid decomposition.

The application of heat has the same effect on the protein of fish as it has on that of meat, fowl, and other animal tissues. Consequently, the same principles of cookery apply to both the retention and the extraction of flavor.