Available wild-caught, several similar species of this bottom-dwelling marine fish are sold under the marketing name Coral Trout; all are distinctive for their red skin with bright blue spots.
Found mainly near reefs in shallow-mid depth waters over the continental shelf to depths of about 100m around most of the Australian coast from Geraldton (WA) north-east to Newcastle (NSW), and caught mainly with lines, nets and traps, as well as sometimes as bycatch by prawn trawlers. As the name suggests, common Coral Trout is the species most often seen, while passionfruit and vermicular are quite rare.
Bar-cheeked Trout; Barred-cheek Coral Trout; Blue-spot Trout; Chinese Footballer; Coral Cod; Coral-trout; Coronation Trout; Corontation Trout; Fairy Cod; Footballer Cod; Highfin Coral Trout; Leopard Cod; Leopard Trout; Lined Coral Trout; Lunar Tailed Rock Cod; Lunartail Rockcod; Lunar-tailed Cod; Lyretail Trout; Squaretail Coral Trout; Trout; Vermicular Cod; Vermicular Leopard-cod; Vermicular Trout; White-fringed Moontail-bass.
Available year round, with peak supply in eastern Australia from September to November.
Size and Weight
Average 500g-4kg and 30-70cm, but can grow to 20kg+ and 120cm.
Banded Rockcod, Bar Rockcod, Barramundi Cod, Blacktip Rockcod, Coral Cod (similar but smaller with rounded, rather than convex, tail fins), Duskytail Grouper, Goldspotted Rockcod, Grouper, Longfin Perch, Longfin Rockcod, Maori Rockcod, Rankin Cod, Rockcod, Sixbar Grouper, Wirrah, Yellowspotted Rockcod.
Sold whole (gilled and gutted), and in fillet forms. In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.
Make sure whole fish is scaled, gilled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Lay whole fish or 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 or cutlets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.
Average yield is 50%. Has a mild flavour (with smaller specimens being slightly stronger flavoured, and fish from estuaries sometime shaving a slightly muddy flavour), low oiliness and moist, firm flesh with fine flakes and few bones, which are easily removed.
The thick skin is best removed. The bones make excellent stock.
Score whole fish at the thickest part of the flesh. Cut thick fillets into serving-size portions to allow even heat penetration.
Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. Its attractive skin makes it ideal for cooking whole.
Goes Well With
Butter, capsicum, citrus (lemon, lime, mandarin, orange), herbs (including chives, dill, parsley), olives, tomato.
Other Rockcods (see relations, above), Bass Groper, Hapuku, Leatherjackets, Murray Cod, Pearl Perch, Red Emperor, West Australian Dhufish.
Frozen and chilled whole fish are imported from Indonesia, Myanmar and the Pacific islands.
Baked Whole Coral Trout with Potato & Tomato