Common Romanian Fish – A Glossary

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Fish is very popular in many areas of Romania, but particularly in the Danube Delta where fishing and cooking fish is a way of life. Bucharest has some excellent fish markets where you can get plenty of local freshwater varieties as well as fish from the Black Sea or those brought in from further afield. I thought it appropriate to publish a glossary or translation of Romanian fish (or if not indigenous to Romania, at least eaten here) so that if you are unfamiliar with the appearance of fresh fish, you can at least know what you’re buying.

Freshwater Fish:

Salau (/sha-low/) – Zander – whitish flesh, often breaded and fried
Stiuca (/shtew-ka/) – Pike – quite boney but tasty when breaded
Pastrav (/pas-trav/) – Trout – commonly farmed in the mountainous areas
Pastrav somonat (/pas-trav so-mo-nat/) – Rainbow trout – great grilled
Crap (/crap/) – Carp – large fish, often sold as steak fillets
Biban (/bee-ban) – Perch – smallish fish, excellent skinned and fried
Caras (/ca-ras/) – Prussian carp – small-medium boney fish, sometimes used in soups
Somn (/somn/) – Wels catfish  – big and thick-skinned, fries and bakes well
Novac (/no-vak/) – Bighead carp – Haven’t tried this one yet
Scrumbie (/skoom-bee-ye/) – Pontic Shad – a bit boney and quite fatty

Saltwater fish:

Calcan (/kal-kan/) – Turbot – A lovely tasty but pricey flat fish
Dorada (/do-rah-da/) – Gilt-head bream – Very tasty grilled on the BBQ
Macrou (/ma-crow/) – Mackerel – Oily sea fish good for grilling
Somon (/so-mon/) – Salmon – extremely versitile
Sardine (/sar-dee-ne/) – Sardines – gutted, dredged and fried – unbeatable!
Ton (/ton/) – Tuna – mostly found canned but occasionally I’ve seen fresh ones
Hamsie (/ham-see-ye/) – Anchovy – small fish good for frying


Creveti (/kre-vetz/) – Prawns/shrimps – You know what to do with these
Midii (/me-dee/) РMussels Рused in stews or saut̩ed with garlic and polenta
Raci (/rach/) – Crayfish – boiled or grilled, simlar to prawns
Homar (/ho-marr/) – Lobster – mostly found in restaurant or upmarket supermarkets
Caracatita (/kara-ka-titza/) – Octopus – you often see the small ones in markets
Sepie (/se-pee-e/) – Squid – mostly simply grilled

Those are the main types I regularly see in the fish markets and shops. There are other fish very you see from time to time but I haven’t listed them all. The others are often fairly easy to work out (I’m sure you can guess which fish ‘hering‘ is) or occasionally the imported ones bring their foreign name along with them, like levrek (the Turkish word for sea bass) even though it has a Romanian name (biban de mare).

Are there any very traditionally-used fish I’ve missed? What are your favourite traditional fish recipes?

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