Eating kosher is a way of eating followed by Orthodox Jews and one that is gaining notice as a healthy method of eating for non Jews. To be kosher everything eaten must be certified kosher and be only eaten with kosher items. There are some pretty strict rules regarding beef and fish and what makes them kosher or not. Beef is only kosher if slaughtered in a particular way and determined to be pure and contaminant free while fish are regulated based on physical characteristics and preparation. A kosher fish is a fish with both scales and fins but only certain kinds of scales.
Some fish that are not kosher are fish without scales or fins such as blowfish, dolphin, and eels. Shallow bottom feeders are considered unclean such as catfish. And even if scales and fins are present there is another criterion on the type of scales. The Torah says that the scales must be the type that can be removed without damaging the skin and must be either clenoid or cycloid. This eliminates shark meat as those scales are placoid. A kosher fish is one that meets all criteria.
Shellfish are also eliminated from the kosher fish category as are mammals such as dolphins and whales. Caviar from kosher fish is allowed but to be certain it is kosher it must be harvested under strict supervision. Fish sticks are almost never kosher because of the difficulty in determining if the fish, oil and frying utensils are kosher. Smoked fish is also not kosher because it is considered the same as cooking over a flame and it is also usually packed in a non kosher oil. It may seem like it is hard to find a fish that is kosher but the opposite is true, there is a vast list of fish that are acceptable.
Preparation of a kosher fish is as important as the type of fish. It is recommended that fish be purchased whole and prepared carefully within the rules of kosher. The fish must be prepared using only utensils not used for non kosher cooking and care must be taken to avoid contamination by bread crumbs or seasoning used on non kosher items. Frying fish presents its own problems because the oil and bread crumbs have generally been used in non kosher cooking. When buying kosher it is best to do your research on the origin of your fish and the acceptable methods of food prep.
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