Pikey Bream

Acanthopagrus berda

Other names: Black bream, picnic seabream.

Family: Sparidae (breams).

Description:

Available wild-caught, it is a marine fish found close to the coast, in estuaries and commonly around river mouths. It is found from the central Queensland coast north to the NT and comprises a small component of coastal net-fisheries in those areas.

Season: Available year round.

Size and Weight: Average 600g-1kg and 30-40cm, but commonly grow to 4kg and 66cm.

Price: Medium priced.

Relations:

Black Bream, Frypan Bream, Tarwhine, Yellowfin Bream and Snapper (Pagrus auratus, not Goldband Snapper). The similar looking Black Bream is lighter (silvery rather than greyish) and has a distinctive dark spot at the base of the pectoral fin, while Pikey Bream’s colour varies with habitat, with fish from upper reaches of rivers being darker.

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 pale pinkish, firm, lustrous, moist flesh with some dark veins and 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.

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, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, lime, parsley, soy sauce.

Alternatives:

Emperors, Morwong, Seaperches.

Imports:

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.

Recipes:

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