Eastern Wirrah

Acanthistius ocellatus

Eastern Wirrah



Available wild-caught, it is a bottom-dwelling marine and estuarine fish found mainly near rocky reefs to depths of 100m off the south-eastern coast from southern Queensland to northern Tasmania and mainly caught off NSW. It is yellowish-green with small blue spots and blue fins.

Other Names

Boot, Meat Wirrah, Mother-in-law Fish, Old Boot, Peppermint Cod, Wirrah, Wirrah Cod.


Serranidae (Rockcods).


Available year round, though supply is limited.

Size and Weight

Can grow to 4kg and 64cm, but commonly sold at 300g-1kg.


Medium priced, with larger specimens attracting a higher price.


Banded Rockcod, Bar Rockcod, Barramundi Cod, Blacktip Rockcod, Coral Cod, Coral Trout, Duskytail Grouper, Goldspotted Rockcod, Grouper, Longfin Perch, Longfin Rockcod, Maori Rockcod, Rankin Cod, Rockcod, Sixbar Grouper, Yellowspotted Rockcod. A related species, Western Wirrah (A.serratus) is caught from Ceduna (SA) to Kalbarri (WA) and other members of the Acanthistius genus are marketed together under the name Wirrrah.

To Buy

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. Estuarine species will have darker flesh.

To Store

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.

To Cook

Average yield is 47%. 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 large 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.

Cooking Methods

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, raw (sashimi). The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs.

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 whole fish and fillets of various Rockcod species are imported from India, Myanmar and Namibia.


Steamed Bar Rockcod in Nori with Soba Noodles

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