Just like a lot of us, many different marine species use Winter as an opportunity to put on a bit of extra weight. This means thicker, juicier fillets, and oodles of lovely fat that’s rich in Omega-3, one of our best Winter defences. Some species even migrate to shallower, warmer waters, making it easier and cheaper to sustainably harvest them. Here are ten species that we feel typify this season’s riches.
1: Deep-Sea Dories (Mirror Dory, Silver Dory, King Dory)
These fish spend the warmer months at depths of around one kilometre deep. In Winter, they move into the shallower reaches of the continental shelf at around 200 metres deep. They use this time to fill out their muscles and put on thick veins of fat that melt away like butter when it hits the hot pan.
2: Sea Urchin (red)
Though naturally variable in quality, commercial divers brave the cold waters because they know that the abundant Red Urchin is brimming with sweet, creamy roe. Good enough to eat raw, this seasonal treat also makes for an all-time-great pasta sauce.
We’re all looking to boost our Omega-3 intake, particularly so in Winter, and there are few better ways to do that than getting stuck into some Sardines. Try a big roasting tray of winter veg in a rich tomato sauce, with a few dozen sardines bubbling away on top. Add some crusty bread to mop up the juices left in the tray!
4: Spanner Crab
Though undeniably excellent all-year round, somehow these wonderful crabs manage to get even better in Winter. Known for their sweet, fragrant flavour, when Spanner Crab develop their silky-soft intramuscular fat, magic happens. Spanner crab bisque is peak Winter seafood.
5: Scallops (Season traditionally starts in July)
There’s a certain something about new-season Scallops. Though technically at their culinary peak later in the season, those of us who’ve been waiting since December for the Bass Strait harvest are champing at the bit! Scallops are so versatile and relatively cheap in Australia, so make the most of them while they are in season. They are easy to sneak into dishes and always bring another dimension when they’re present. From Sydney sashimi masters to Salamanca Place pie stalls, Australia loves a scallop.
6: Blue Mussels
Traditional Winter seafood anywhere in the world that can grow them, Australia is blessed with around 10,000km of suitable habitat in which some of the world’s best mussels are farmed. Mussels lend themselves to a hearty cuisine- think a kilo of mussels in a pot with tomato, onion, and garlic sauce, or starring in Doyle’s famous Chowder. They’re forgiving to cook, impart a lovely sweet brininess, and at $5 to $10/kg for live product, a bargain!
7: Pink Ling
This denizen of the deep is eaten year-round, chiefly due to how meaty and versatile the fillets are. Due to the fat in the flesh, the meat is excellent in pies, curries, and soups- any method that would cause fish to fall apart. This fattiness is at its peak during Winter, and this species remains available throughout, ensuring reasonable prices.
8: Silver Warehou
A cousin of the highly-touted Blue-Eye Trevalla, this deep-sea fish is much tastier than the price tag would indicate. Due to the levels of fat and the inherently soft flesh. Silver Warehou is a world-class fish and chip fish. The fillets are also excellent grilled or braised in a rich sauce. Enjoy making classic Aussie fish and chips at home while staying warm and dry!
9: Yellowtail Scad
Mostly known to Australians as fishing bait, the Yellowtail Scad is one of our cheapest locally available fish. A relative of the Trevally family, this fish maintains a decent oiliness throughout the year that peaks in Winter. This allows a wide variety of cooking methods including but not limited to sashimi, deep-frying, braising, or even doused with spice and simmered in a tagine. Expect prices of $5-$10 for whole fish.
10. Alfonsino (pictured above)
This time of year is ideal for species like Alfonsino which are in abundance and premium quality. This bright red fish is stunning to look at and even better to eat. It has a huge mouth, allowing it to eat a diverse diet which gives it a rich flavour profile. A fish that tastes this good doesn't require much effort to cook and is best steamed or baked whole then placed in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy.