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A fish fork is a fork which is meant to be used while eating fish. In a formal table setting, the fish fork is typically smaller than the meat fork, and it is paired with a knife, to assist the eater in manipulating the fish on the plate. When a table has been well set for a formal dinner party, the utensils are laid out in the order that they will be used, allowing diners to easily identify the fish fork. Kitchen supply stores which sell fine silver typically sell fish forks, both alone and as part of larger silverware sets.
Like other forks, a fish fork is made with three to four tines, depending on the style of the flatware set, attached to a long handle. Unlike a salad fork, the tines on a fish fork are evenly sized, because it is used with a knife, and therefore diners would not need a strengthened outer tine to help them cut the fish. Some people use salad forks as fish forks when no salad is served, or because they do not wish to purchase an extra set of fish forks for a set of silverware.
If you happen to find yourself confused by the silverware at a formal dinner party, all you need to know is that you work from the outside in. In a meal with a salad, fish, and meat course, you would find the fish fork in the middle of the forks, with a complementary knife to use with it as well. If you skip a course for some reason, the wait staff should remove the unnecessary silver so that you keep pace with the rest of the diners.
If you are purchasing flatware, there are a number of options to consider, as there are specialized utensils for a variety of tasks, from stirring coffee to eating dessert. Some people find these utensils superfluous, preferring to stock silverware in a few sizes to meet basic dining needs rather than purchasing a monstrous set of silverware. Because the fish fork is defined more by size than any remarkable features, you could safely use the same mid-size forks for both fish and salad in most situations.
If you have fish forks made from silver, you should wash them immediately after use and dry them to prevent spotting and tarnishing. Never run silverware through the dishwasher, as this can ruin the finish, and consider setting a single day every year to polish all of your silver, ensuring that your silverware stays in good condition. Fish forks made from materials like steel can be run through a dishwasher or hand washed, depending on inclination, although hand-drying is still recommended because it can keep them shiny and spot-free.
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