There is no denying that seafood plays a huge part in Australian eating culture. Whether it's peeling prawns around the Christmas table, slurping back oysters at a restaurant, or just cooking up a fresh fish fillet for dinner, we love our seafood.
But with so much variety available, some might be wondering, what are the most popular species of seafood eaten in Australia?
As Australia's 'home of seafood', Sydney Fish Market is very well placed to answer this question. With over 12,000 tonnes of seafood passing through our site every year, we know what Aussies are buying and eating.
Here is our list of Australia's favourite seafood species.
A native of the Northern Hemisphere, Atlantic Salmon is only available farmed in Australia, with the majority being farmed in south-eastern Tasmania (although there are some inland, freshwater farms in Victoria, which primarily produce roe).
Salmon is popular as it is a very versatile fish, with a distinctive flavour. If you love Salmon, but would like to try something different, we recommend Ocean Trout as a substitute. Its flesh is a similar colour, texture, and flavour, but it is often cheaper than Salmon.
No surprises here. Prawns are at the top of almost every Aussie's shopping list throughout summer... especially during the festive season.
The most popular varieties are wild-caught King and Tiger prawns (which are of course delicious), but at Sydney Fish Market we are partial to the little, sweet school prawns that come from NSW's mid-north coast. They're often much cheaper than larger varieties, and the smaller the prawn, the sweeter the taste!
Australia is famous for its oyster culture; many even say our oysters are better tasting than those from France. The main varieties are Sydney Rock (brinier) and Pacific (creamier), and everyone has their preferred type.
Everyone likes their oysters served differently; we recommend trying a few different dressings to find your favourite.
After prawns, Barramundi is probably the species that first comes to mind when you think about Australian seafood. Available both wild-caught and farmed, it is caught using gillnets in coastal and fresh waters in Australia’s tropical north, from the Ashburton River in WA to the Noosa River in Queensland.
Wild-caught Barramundi is available from February to November, peaking from February to May, while farmed Barramundi is available year-round, meaning you will always be able to get your hands on this tasty and versatile fish.
Here’s one for the true seafood lovers. Your favourite fish's favourite fish, Mullet has been loved by those in the know for centuries. Available wild-caught, it is a free-swimming, mainly estuarine fish, sometimes found in freshwater as well as in coastal waters as it moves out to sea from April-July to spawn.
All Mullet share uncommonly high levels of omega-3 in their generously distributed fat, and it is the flavour in this fat that is the secret to their appeal. To get the most out of this fish, work with the fat, using methods that are likely to char the skin – barbecuing, roasting or placing skin-side up under the grill for a few minutes. Let the fat render down, dressing the flesh as it goes.
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Flathead. Just as popular with recreational fishers as it is with commercial fishers, these appropriately named bottom-dwelling marine fish have flat-triangular shaped heads and long tapering bodies. Several varieties of Flathead are available in Australia, with the most popular being Tiger and Dusky.
Flathead does best wrapped in foil or banana leaves if baking or barbecuing, to prevent it drying out, and is also an excellent fish battered for fish and chips.
Tuna is not only popular when sold in tins, but also as sashimi and steaks. A tuna steak is a great alternative to red meat for beef-lovers, as it has a similar flavour and texture, and is so easy to cook.
There are a range of Tuna species caught in Australia, with each fishery managed very closely to ensure populations remain strong. Paying attention to seasonality is important here, as different tuna species are at their best at different times of year. Ask your fishmonger if you're unsure; they know their stuff!
Blue Swimmer Crab
Blue Swimmer Crab has been the most sold species (by weight) on Sydney Fish Market's auction floor for many years running now, and for good reason.
This species' popularity is mostly due to how easy it is for the home cook to handle. Blue Swimmers are one of the only varieties of crab not sold live or already cooked, meaning you don't have to undertake any specialised process to kill them (which, understandably, can make people squeamish) and can instead get straight into cooking!