Grass Emperor

Lethrinus laticaudis

Other names: Blue-lined emperor, brown sweetlip, coral bream, emperor, grass sweetlip, snapper bream.

Family: Lethrinidae (emperors).


With a distinctive pointed snout, big eyes and thick lips, this wild-caught, marine fish is found mainly on the continental shelf especially around coral reefs, in tropical waters, and caught mainly off northern Australia by trawls, traps and lines. It most closely resembles the spangled emperors.

Season: Available year round.

Size and Weight: Average 500g-1.8kg and 30-45cm, but can grow to over 5.6kg and 70cm.

Price: Medium priced.


Longnose, redspot, redthroat and spangled emperors and seabream. Also seaperches (including crimson, goldband, moses, ruby, saddletail and stripey snappers, and green jobfish, hussar, rosy snapper, mangrove jack, red emperor and ruby snapper), which have less pointed snouts and the cheek scales that emperors lack.

To Buy:

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

To Store:

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gilled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Lay whole fish or fillets, in a single layer on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 40%. Has a mild, slightly sweet flavour, low oiliness and moist, firm flesh with large flakes and few bones, which are easily removed. The thick skin is usually removed. The bones make excellent stock. Score large whole fish at the thickest part of the flesh and cut thick fillets into serving-size portions to allow even heat penetration.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue. A good fish to cook whole, either plate-sized or larger to feed a group, the firm flesh lifts easily from the bones when cooked. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs.

Goes well with:

Chilli, chives, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, green onions, lemongrass, mirin, shallots, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce.


Other emperors (including longnose, redspot, redthroat and spangled emperors and seabream), crimson, goldband, moses, ruby, saddletail and stripey snapper, green jobfish, hussar, rosy snapper, mangrove jack, redfish, red emperor, snapper, striped trumpeter.


Chilled whole emperors are imported from the Pacific Islands, and frozen fillets from Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.


Redthroat Emperor Fillets in Coconut Curry Sauce >