Winter is a fantastic time to enjoy Australian seafood, for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, many species put on fat in response to colder waters, and are therefore juicier and more flavoursome than in other seasons. Secondly, reduced demand (due to many Aussies only consuming seafood in the warmer months) brings the prices of many species right down, meaning you have the chance to score yourself a deal.
Check out this list of our top species for winter to learn about the seafood species that come into their best form in winter.
Not to be confused with Atlantic Salmon, Australian Salmon (Arripis trutta) is actually in a scientific family all its own. This species is not only often confused with other fish of similar names, but it also represents one of the strongest examples of the gulf between reputation and actual eating quality.
This is a fish that responds particularly well to proper handling methods, such as brain spiking, bleeding, and a speedy placement into ice slurry. Good handling methods make for a clean, firm, meaty fillet that is excellent as crumbed fish pieces, minced in fish cakes, barbequed, smoked, or even as sashimi.
Australian Salmon comes into great form in winter, with especially strong supply coming up to Sydney Fish Market from South Australia, Tasmania and Southern Victoria.
Born in tropical waters off the coast of New Caledonia, the first thing this species must do is manage to navigate thousands of kilometres, all the way back to freshwater streams, rivers, and dams on the East coast of Australia. They then spend a few years maturing, enjoying a diet befitting of their status as apex predators (crustaceans, fish, molluscs, insects and even juvenile birds).
Male Longfin Eel are capable of reaching lengths of over 1.7m and weights of over 22kg, with females smaller. Check out this video to see their incredible size for yourself!
But no matter what the size or gender, Longfin Eels possess one of the richest, most complex meats in seafood. Though there are many ways to enjoy Eels, the best methods are ones that work with this richness, such as barbequing or hot-smoking.
Your favourite fish’s favourite fish, Mullet have been loved by those in the know for tens of thousands of years in Australia, everywhere on the East coast. This hardy fish is at home in the freshwater upper reaches of estuaries as it is in the ocean, and will take on a corresponding estuarine or marine flavour.
Despite these variations in flavour, all Mullet share an 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. Use cooking methods that are likely to char the skin, and render the fat - barbecuing, roasting or placing skin-side up under the grill for a few minutes.
Due to Mullet’s wide distribution as well as their schooling nature, Mullet are easy for our fishers to target, and cheap to buy. At the peak of the Autumn/Winter Mullet run on the NSW coast, the price can get as low at $2/kg, though they usually retail for closer to $5 to $8 per kilo for whole fish.
King Threadfin Salmon
We recently featured this magnificent fish in a Species Spotlight video, right as supply of it was starting to make its way onto our auction floor. In winter, this fish is much more commonly seen, and is a fantastic alternative to Barramundi.
Its flavour is lovely and sweet as a result of its diet: small crabs, prawns and worms, which it detects using its catfish-esque fin filaments below its face. The firm flesh of Threadfin Salmon holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles, and can even be cubed for kebabs.
Garfish (Southern and River)
Found in shallow, coastal waters almost everywhere in Australia, the Garfish is one of the few species in Australia that could be said to have lost popularity over time.
This is almost certainly due to their preponderance of very fine bones coming off the spine, even though they’re so fine that they can be eaten with no discomfort. Traditional Garfish recipes often mention rolling the body with a milk bottle to gently break the bones (although milk delivery ceased over 50 years ago). But we can guarantee that Garfish haven’t lost their sweetness or unique flavour!
In fact, they remain one of Australia’s finest fish, still highly prised by top chefs such as John Niland, who crumbs butterflied Garfish and serves them with a yoghurt tartare and herb salad. You can also try crumbing and frying just one side of the fillet, allowing the natural presentation of the fish as well as a moreish crunch.