There are several fish species in the genera Trachinotus that are marketed as pompano. The name pompano has long been used broadly to refer to many different species within this large family of fish called jacks (Carangidae). Pompano became popular in the United States primarily because of the domestic sport and commercial fishery along the coast of Florida for Trachinotus carolinus. This species is the most expensive and preferred due to its wonderful flavor, texture and fat content. This species of pompano is highly valued as a food fish both commercially and recreationally.
Note: Good Music to eat fish . . .
Today much of our domestic demand for this species is met by whole frozen Golden Pompano, Trachinotus auratus/blochii, (sometimes referred to as Golden Permit) which is imported from Asia where it is farm raised in sea cages. This imported Pompano is a close match to the eating quality of the much sought after native U.S. pompano carolinus species. Most of the domestic pompano is sold in the fresh market at much higher prices than this imported whole frozen Golden Pompano which primarily comes from China. However, the availability of this imported pompano satisfies a demand for frozen product that the domestic pompano fishery simply cannot meet.
Both Trachinotus species are thin, silver-colored fish with gold on the belly and a deep body. Their flesh is white, delicate, and has pleasing oil content. These two pompano species grow to about two pounds and 18 inches long.
Domestically, larger fish are filleted while smaller fish are usually offered in whole cleaned pan ready form. Smaller fish are better eating than the larger ones. The imported Golden Pompano helps fill the demand for these smaller 1-2# sized whole fish when domestic fresh pompano is unavailable or too high in price. There has, and continues to be, significant restrictions on both the commercial and recreational harvests of pompano in order to protect the U.S. domestic resource. Sea Port’s imported farmed raised Golden Pompano assists in lessening the pressure on this popular U.S. wild fishery
Within the diverse pompano (jack) family, there is a very large species (Trachinotus falcatus) that gets as large as fifty pounds. Its scientific common name is Permit. Whenever two pound or larger fillets or whole pompano over three pounds are offered in the marketplace, they are most likely from this much larger pompano (Permit) and should be priced much lower than the smaller pompano due its lower quality of meat (drier/coarser).
Pompano are excellent broiled, oven baked, or pan fried, but there is a substantial tradition of cooking them in pouches by baking them and using complex sauces. It is highly esteemed as a food fish. The delicacy and quality of the flesh, however, should be able to stand on its own with simple preparation and cooking.
As a broad general rule of thumb, always choose whole pompano that are two pounds or less in size. This will help assure you are most likely getting the most desirable pompanos from this large and diverse family of jacks (Carangidae).