Southern Sand Flathead

Platycephalus bassensis

Other names: Sand flathead, bay flathead, cliff flathead, common flathead, sandy flathead, slimy flathead.

Family: Platycephalidae (flatheads)


These appropriately named bottom-dwelling marine fish have a flat-triangular shaped head and long tapering body with reddish-brown flecks. Wild-caught, they are found mainly on sand in bays and estuaries, but also on the continental shelf to depths of about 100m, and are caught off southern Australia, primarily southern NSW and Victoria, by trawling, gillnets, Danish seine nets and beach seine nets. It is endemic to Australia and looks very similar to longspine flathead, which can be distinguished by a pale blue lower tail fin, and to northern sand flathead which is lighter in colour.

Season: Available year round.

Size and Weight: Commonly less than 500g and 40cm, but can grow to 1.3kg and 55cm.

Price: Low-medium priced.


Bartail, bluespotted, deepwater, dusky, longspine, northern sand, rock, southern bluespotted, tiger, and other flatheads.

To Buy:

Sold whole (gilled and gutted) and in fillet form. In whole fish look for lustrous skin with a slippery, mucilaginous coating, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for yellowish-white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings (some dark veins may be visible) 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 and fillets in a single layer on a plate and cover with 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 30%. Has a slightly sweet flavour, low oiliness and slightly dry, medium textured flesh with fine flakes. Their unusual shape means that there are relatively few bones, mostly towards the head section of the fillet, which are easily removed. The bones make good stock. Cut thick fillets into serving-size portions to allow even heat penetration.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. It is best wrapped in foil or banana leaves if baking or barbecuing, to prevent it drying out. It is an excellent fish battered for fish and chips.

Goes well with:

Beer batter, beetroot, cauliflower, capers, cornichons, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon, lettuce, lime, mayonnaise, onions, tartare sauce, tomato, white wine vinegar, yoghurt.


Bream, hussar, morwong, redfish, tarwhine, whiting.




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