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Red gurnard – January's fish of the month

Red gurnard – January's fish of the month

Red gurnard – curious and delicious

Gurnard is an intriguing fish. Large pectoral (side) fins that open like wings endow the fish with a distinct appearance and give rise to nicknames such as ‘the butterflies of the sea’ and ‘sea robins’. In addition to seeming to fly, gurnard have ‘legs’, flexible spines that have become detached from the pectoral fin over time. These spines give the impression that the fish is walking but are, in fact, used to stir up the sea floor and access the small crustaceans that they feed on. A flat nose helps to shovel such delicacies up from the sandy bottom.

Curiosities aside, gurnard is a deliciously sweet fish with firm, flaky flesh. Fondly called ‘carrots’ by fishers for their colouration, gurnard is an extremely versatile fish which works well with many flavours and styles of cuisine. Soup and stew recipes often call on gurnard for its ability to hold together well, however it is just as delicious pan fried, baked, roasted, poached or barbequed.
Commonly caught inshore, the gurnard are an important species for recreational and customary fishers as well as commercial fishers. These bony fish are available year-round, relatively short-lived and reasonably productive. They are also given to ‘grunting’ – in fact, the name gurnard derives from the French and Latin verbs for this sound.

For a meal that’s bound to impress, try this simple coconut crust on fresh gurnard this summer.

For more information on red gurnard, visit from 1 January 2014.


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