plural barracudas

The tropical barracuda is renowned for attacking people but those fished in more northerly waters are smaller. These smaller ones are good fried. It is from the same family as the grey mullet (US: striped mullet). Small versions grow to about 30 cm (12 inches) but it can grow as large as 120-150 cm (4-5 ft) long. It has large jaws, strong, sharp teeth and a slender, streamlined body with small scales. The back is dark with some brown, some greenish- and some bluish-grey, depending on the species, with a pale underbelly.

The barracuda has firm, white, well-flavoured flesh. Steaks can be grilled, fried or barbecued and then marinated, eaten hot or cold. Whole fish can be poached or baked. In American markets they are most likely to be Pacific or California barracuda. Watch out for the very large Caribbean barracuda, which has poisonous flesh. Once, paddling through the mangroves in a lagoon in Belize, I trailed my fingers over the side. The boatman yelled at me to get my fingers out of the water, or a barracuda would get them.

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