John Dory

Zeus faber

Other names: Doorkeeper's fish, dory keparu, kuparu, St Peter's fish.

Family: Zeidae (dories).

Description:

Available wild caught, it is a bottom-dwelling marine fish found mainly on the continental shelf from estuaries to about 200m found in temperate waters from southern Queensland to WA, including Tasmania and caught by trawling and Danish seines mainly off the south-eastern coast of NSW and Victoria, with some off Tasmania, SA and WA as far north as Port Hedland. Its skin is greenish to silver and the prominent dark spot on the side (said to be the thumb print of St Peter the fisherman) and long, wispy dorsal fin distinguishes it from all other dories. Skin appears smooth and scaleless, though it does have tiny, fine scales. One of Australia’s most highly prized finfish.

Season: Available year round.

Size and Weight: Typically 500g-1.5kg and 30-45cm, but can grow to 3.5kg and 75cm.

Price: High priced.

Relations:

King dory, mirror dory, silver dory. Also closely related to oreodories, including black, smooth, spikey, and warty, oreodory.

To Buy:

Sold whole (gilled and gutted) and in fillet form (usually skin on as the dark spot differentiates it from similar species). In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for 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 gutted and cleaned thoroughly. 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, slightly sweet flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium textured flesh with fine flakes and few bones, which are easily removed. The edible, scaleless skin can be left on.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. Fillets are thin and, to protect them when barbecuing or grilling, best wrapped in foil or banana leaves.

Goes well with:

Butter, citrus, fresh herbs (such as chives, coriander, dill, French tarragon, parsley, thyme), olive oil, white pepper, white wine.

Alternatives:

Other dories or oreodories, flounder, sole, whitings.

Imports:

Chilled whole fish and chilled or frozen fillets are imported from New Zealand. Basa, a freshwater farmed catfish imported from Asia, is sometimes marketed as ‘Pacific dory’, though it is unrelated to the dories.

Recipes:

Pan-Fried John Dory with Orange, Parsley & Date Salad >
Blackened Mirror Dory with Lime Butter >