Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon Discusses the Characteristics of Kosher Fish

In the below interview, a renowned kosher expert discusses the different types of fish fit for kosher consumption. Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon is the supervisor of all certification efforts undertaken by kosher certification agency KSA Kosher. According to Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, kosher consumers must proceed with caution when purchasing fish in restaurants and supermarkets.

Q: What determines whether or not a fish is kosher?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Fish that have fins and scales are considered kosher.

Q: How are fish scales removed properly for kosher consumption?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The scales must be true scales that are removed without breaking the fish’s skin.

Q: What kind of scales aren’t considered true scales?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Similar structures such as thorn-like scales or bony tubercles that require removing portions of the skin are not considered scales.

Q: What are some fish possessing those structures?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The list includes lumpfish, sturgeon, shark, swordfish and eels. These fish are not considered kosher.

Q: Does the fish’s age matter in determining kosher certification?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: In some cases, yes. Keep in mind that a few species of fish develop scales at adulthood. If a young fish of that type is captured, it can still be considered kosher.

Q: Can kosher consumers consume shrimp?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: All shellfish, including shrimp, are non-kosher. Lobster, mussels and oysters are also forbidden. However, that still leaves a number of different fish such as flounder, grouper and tilapia.

Q: What about fish eggs?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Only the eggs, or roe, of kosher fish are allowed for caviar or other food products. Supervision is necessary to determine if the fish meets kosher standards.

Q: Can kosher consumers eat fresh or frozen fish sticks?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Fish sticks may present three issues: the fish itself, the frying equipment, or the utensils and oil. Therefore, fish sticks require a kosher certification.

Q: How should the fish be prepared?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Extreme care should be taken when consumers purchase frozen, filleted or fresh fish.

Q: Why is this?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Often, food preparers will substitute non-kosher fish. Plus, remnants of non-kosher fish can cause contamination on cutting boards and knives. Therefore, as a rule, fileted fish would require reliable kosher certification.

Q: Is fish blood kosher?

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Eating fish blood is permissible.

KSA (Kosher Supervision of America) is the premier kosher certification agency in the Western United States. Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon administrates the organization’s daily operations.

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