Corvina is the name for a family of hundreds of species of large, pink-fleshed fish mainly found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean along Central and South America. Because there are so many types of corvina, the fish vary in size and appearance. Specific types have many names, such as speckled sea trout, white sea bass, kingfish, yellowfin corvina, and orangemouth corvina, just to name a few. Corvina is a thick fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways and is more likely found at a fish market than the grocery store.
What Is Corvina?
Around 270 species of boney, saltwater fish fall into the Sciaenidae family, which also goes under the general name of corvina. Most corvina are found in warm temperate and tropical waters, such as those along the southwestern side of the Central and South America coasts, and get fished all year round using a bottom trawl, gillnet, or handline.
Corvina are of either the drum fish or croaker fish variety, the former known for its drumming sound and the latter recognized by a distinct croaking. Some varieties are silvery-blue with light speckling and yellowish fins, while others are bronze-hued with dark spots and golden fins. Their size also differs, from small, one-meal fish to large drums weighing 25 pounds.
How To Cook Corvina
This hearty white-fleshed fish can be cooked in many ways, from broiling to grilling to pan-frying. Its thick flesh is easy to work with, with the meat turning from a light pink color to white as it heats through, helping cooks know when it's done. Some corvina are small and work best when cooked whole, while the larger varieties need to be cut up into fish steaks before cooking.
Because corvina is a saltwater fish, it can also be served raw (when properly treated and stored) prepared as ceviche, which is how it's often served in Peru, or seared and served warm. When fully cooked, the flesh turns a creamy white and pulls off in substantial flakes. Cooked corvina can be eaten plain, dipped in a sauce, or as the filling for tacos.
What Does Corvina Taste Like?
Corvina is one of the more mild varieties of fish. It has a slightly sweet, mellow flavor that can be a bit buttery tasting. The flesh is oily and tender which helps give corvina a rich, luxurious mouthfeel.
Corvina vs. Red Snapper
Corvina and red snapper have some similarities, like a sweet, mild meat that is pink when raw. They both can weigh up to 25 pounds, but can also be caught younger and smaller. In the latter case, red snapper and corvina often get served whole.
But beyond these factors, these two fish don't have much in common. For starters, red snapper doesn't have the same oily, buttery texture as corvina. While its flesh pales when cooked like corvina, there's a slight rosy hue that remains while corvina turns a creamy white. Red snapper is also a specific type of fish, whereas corvina has many varieties and names. That makes red snapper a higher-end, more expensive fish that's harder to come by, especially fresh.
There are 270 different corvinas, which can cause some confusion, especially since the fish is referred to by a vast number of names. Varieties will be named Atlantic croaker, weakfish, black drum, red drum, spotted sea trout, speckled sea trout, yellowfin corvina, white sea bass, kingfish, orangemouth corvina, golden corvina, shortfin corvina, plus many more. Even though some of the names use the terms "bass" and "trout," corvina drums and croakers are unrelated to either.
Corvina can be used in any recipe calling for a meaty white fish. Eat it cured with citrus, grilled, baked, or sauteed.
Where to Buy Corvina
The first step in buying corvina is knowing what names to look for. Often it's called "white sea bass" or "speckled sea trout," but can be labeled under many more monikers. It's best to visit a fishmonger to get not only the freshest samples but to know what type of corvina you are purchasing. While this fish is sold in many groceries, it will more likely be found in the frozen seafood section.
If the corvina was bought fresh, it can be stored in the fridge for two days; if frozen, store in the freezer until ready to thaw and use. All corvina should be wrapped thoroughly and placed in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Once defrosted, the fish needs to be cooked within 24 hours to prevent spoilage. After the fish is cooked, it can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about three days.