Spangled Emperor

Lethrinus nebulosus (Greater Spangled Emperor)
Lethrinus sp. (Lesser Spangled Emperor)

Spangled Emperor



With distinctive pointed snouts, big eyes and thick lips, these wild-caught, marine fish are found mainly on the continental shelf especially around coral reefs and lagoons as well as inshore reefs and beaches, in tropical and subtropical waters to around 150m, and caught mainly off northern Australia by trawls, traps and lines.

Both species have yellowish skin with pale blue markings; the greater has pronounced blue lines on the face, whereas the lesser has less defined bluish-brown spots and streaks. The largest and most sought after of the Emperor family.

Other Names

Blue-lined Emperor, Blueline Emperor, Blue-spotted Emperor, Nor-west Snapper, North West Snapper, Sand Snapper, Tricky Snapper, Yellow Sweetlip.


Lethrinidae (Emperors).


Available year round.

Size and Weight

Average 800g-4kg and 30-60cm, but can grow to over 10kg and 93cm.


Medium priced.


Other Emperors (including Grass, Longnose, Redspot, Redthroat and Seabream), Crimson, Goldband, Moses, Ruby, Saddletail, and Stripey Snappers, Green Jobfish, Hussar, Rosy Snapper, Mangrove Jack, Redfish, Red Emperor, Snapper, Striped Trumpeter.

To Buy

Sold whole (gilled and gutted) and in fillet form. In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for yellowish-white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

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 4 days or freeze whole fish for up to 6 months, and fillets for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.

To Cook

Average yield is 40%. Has a mild, slightly sweet flavour, low oiliness and moist, firm flesh with large flakes and few bones, which are easily removed. The thick skin is usually removed. The bones make excellent stock. Score large whole fish at the thickest part of the flesh and cut thick fillets into serving-size portions to allow even heat penetration.

Cooking Methods

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue. A good fish to cook whole, either plate-sized or larger to feed a group, the firm flesh lifts easily from the bones when cooked. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs.

Goes Well With

Chilli, chives, coconut milk, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, green onions, lemongrass, mirin, shallots, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce.


Other Emperors (including Grass, Longnose, Redspot and Redthroat Emperors and Seabream), Coral Trout, Crimson, Goldband, Moses, Ruby, Saddletail and Stripey Snapper, Green Jobfish, Hussar, Rosy Snapper, Mangrove Jack, Redfish, Red Rmperor, Snapper, Striped Trumpeter.


Chilled whole Emperors are imported from the Pacific Islands, and frozen fillets from Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.


Redthroat Emperor Fillets in Coconut Curry Sauce

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