You are here

Pan Fish

Panfish literally means a fish which fits into the size of a pan. The term has regional meaning depending on the place where it is eaten. This term is sometimes spelled as pan-fish or pan fish. The term pan-fish is also used by fisherman to refer to small catches which are good enough to fit into size of a pan and also legal by all means to refer by the name pan fish. The Oxford Dictionary states that the term was first mentioned in an American cookbook titled American Cookery in 1796.

In New Mexico, this term is generally applied to four closely related species of fish – yellow perch, bluegill, green sunfish and white crappie.

Broiling, frying, and baking are some of the techniques by which most of the fishes in pan fish series are cooked.


Following are some of the fishes which are often categorized as pan fish –

  • Bluegill – A popular fresh water fish from North America, which is a staple food source for people living in Illinois, Texas and Arkansas. This fish is also known as bream in some parts of United States.

  • Crappie – It is a very popular fresh water fish from North America and Scandinavia. This fish has become an integral part of Scandinavian meal. The fish is sometimes referred as poor mans lobster based on its taste which resembles lobster. This fish is also known by some alternate names such as strawberry bass, perch, calico bass, grass bass, moonfish, shiner, and speckled bass.

  • Yellow Perch – It is a very well-known edible fish from Canada and United States. This is perhaps the only fresh water fish with a yellow hued body. They are easily caught by fisherman while fishing for other species of fish. The yellow perch is also eaten by lots of predator fishes surviving in the water. It is considered one of the best flavored panfishes and restaurants often bank upon its popularity to sell their food which is not even remotely connected to this species.

  • Green Sunfish – This edible game fish is distinguished by its short pectoral fins and big mouth. This fish is usually cultivated in ponds, backwaters and lakes near home. They considered a reliable food staple in New Mexico.


Following are some of the recipes involving different species of panfish.

  • Perch Cakes – This makes a good appetizer for a chilly winter day. The perch fillets are soaked in the batter consisting of egg, onion, lemon juice, parsley flakes, pepper, cornflake crumbs, mustard, salt, and fried in any vegetable oil. The perch flakes can be teamed with any sauce of the choice.
  • Pan-Fried Crappie – It makes a good side dish for freshly steamed rice. It is prepared by pan-frying the egg batter soaked crappie fillets. Cornmeal, flour, eggs, salt and pepper are some of the ingredients used in the preparation of the batter. The fish is cooked until they can be easily flaked with a fork.