Species Groups

Learn about the following species groups (including their most common members, as well as purchasing, storage and cooking information), or select a specific species from the species list on the right.

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Ocean Jacket
Nelusetta ayraudi
 
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Ocean Jacket

Nelusetta ayraudi
Other names:

Chinaman, chinaman leatherjacket, leather-jacket, yellow jacket.

Family:

Monacanthidae (leatherjackets).

Description:

Available wild caught, these marine fish are mainly found inshore near the sea bottom on the continental shelf and upper slope often near reefs and sponge beds to about 200m. Ocean Jackets are by far the most valuable commercial Leatherjacket, and are caught mainly in the Great Australian Bight in traps or by demersal trawlers. Like all Leatherjackets, they lack scales and have a distinctive skin that resembles fine sandpaper, a prominent, spiky first dorsal fin and very small mouths.

Season:

Available year round.

Size and Weight:

Commonly to about 1.5kg and 60cm, though they can grow to 3.5kg and 76cm.

Price:

Low priced.

Relations:

Other Leatherjackets (there are over 100 species in the family and 60 in Australian waters, including the group marketed as Reef Leatherjackets, such as Yellowstripe, Sixspine, Horseshoe and Yellowfin Leatherjackets), Triggerfish (Balistidae).

To Buy:

Sold as trunks (headed, gutted and skinned) and in fillet form (always skinned). In whole fish and trunks look for intact skin (if present), firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for off-white to yellowish, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store:

Make sure whole fish and trunks are gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish, trunks and fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 30% from whole fish and 65% from trunks. Has a mild flavour, low oiliness and is moderately moist, with firm flesh. Fillets are usually boneless, trunks usually have the backbone left in and can be cooked this way or cut into cutlets.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue, smoke. A good plate-sized fish cooked whole (head off), best left whole (head off) for baking and grilling (and wrapped in foil or banana leaves to prevent it drying out). Thin fillets are also best wrapped in foil or banana leaves when barbecuing or grilling. Flesh works well in mousseline or minced for fish cakes and fish balls. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles.

Goes well with:

Butter, cream, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon, olive oil, onions, pepper, shallots, wine (red and white).

Alternatives:

Dories, Gemfish, Morwong, Rockcods.

Imports:

Frozen fillets are imported from South East Asia.

Recipes:

Leatherjackets in a Mediterranean Sauce >
Leatherjackets with Pistachio & Olive Crust >
Leatherjackets with Burnt Butter & Capers >
Bouillabaisse >