Black Bream

Acanthopagrus butcheri

Other names: Gippsland bream, golden bream, silver bream, southern black bream, southern bream, southern yellowfin bream.

Family: Sparidae (breams).


Available wild-caught, it is an estuarine fish usually found in brackish or freshwater in southern Australia, though it does appear in higher salinities in WA. Caught mainly in Victoria, especially Gippsland Lakes (where the Black Bream fishery goes back to the late 1800s), and also commonly off southern WA. Caught mainly by haul seining and gillnetting. It is endemic to Australia.

Season: Available year round with peaks in WA in August and September and some available from SA in the second half of the year.

Size and Weight: Commonly 400g-1.5kg and 30-45cm, but can grow to 3.6kg and 55cm.

Price: Medium priced.


Frypan Bream, Pikey Bream, Tarwhine, Yellowfin Bream and Snapper (Pagrus auratus, not Goldband Snapper). Often confused with Yellowfin Bream, which has yellowish-white anal and pelvic fins instead of greyish brown, and a paler body. The similar looking Pikey Bream is darker (greyish rather than silvery) and doesn’t have Black Bream’s dark spot at the base of the pectoral fin.

To Buy:

Sold mainly whole (gilled and gutted) and occasionally in fillet form (usually skinned). In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for greyish-white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh, with dark veins, but without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store:

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly as soon as possible (completely remove the lining of the abdominal cavity and the white fat along the abdominal wall). Wrap whole fish and fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 35%. Has a mild, sweet flavour, low oiliness and moist, soft-medium flesh. Can have a coarser flavour than other Bream, due to its estuarine habitat.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. A good plate-sized fish cooked whole, flesh also works well in mousseline.

Goes well with:

Capers, chilli, coriander, garlic, lemon, lemongrass, lime, parsley. Soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, ginger and Asian spices can help balance the slightly muddy or coarse taste some Bream develop due to their estuarine habitat.


Emperors, Morwong, Seaperches.


None. Frozen imported fillets of other species are sometimes sold as ‘seabream’, although there is also an Australian fish called Seabream, which is actually a member of the Emperor family.


Steamed Whole Bream with Green Chilli & Coriander >
Yellowfin Bream with Vietnamese Salad >
Almond-Crusted Tarwhine Fillets with Roasted Potatoes & Saffron Garlic Mayonnaise >