Dusky Flathead

Platycephalus fuscus

Other names: Black flathead, dusky, estuary flathead, flathead, flattie, frog, lizard, mud flathead, river flathead.

Family: Platycephalidae (flatheads)


These appropriately named bottom-dwelling marine fish have a flat-triangular shaped head and long, dark, tapering body. Wild-caught, they are found mainly inshore in estuaries and bays to depths of about 30m and are caught in NSW estuaries and off the coast of southern Queensland by gillnets and seine nets (as well as bycatch of prawn trawling).

Season: Available year round with peaks in NSW and Queensland from June to August.

Size and Weight: Commonly 500g-6kg and 40-80cm, but can grow to 15kg and 120cm.

Price: Medium priced.


Bartail, bluespotted, deepwater, longspine, northern sand, rock, southern bluespotted, southern sand, tiger, and other flatheads.

To Buy:

Sold whole (gilled and gutted) and in fillet form. In whole fish look for lustrous skin with a slippery, mucilaginous coating, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for yellowish-white, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings (dense patches of dark veins are often apparent) 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 and 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 for up to 3 months, below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 30%. Has a slightly sweet flavour, low oiliness and slightly dry, medium textured flesh with fine flakes. Their unusual shape means that there are relatively few bones, mostly towards the head section of the fillet, which are easily removed. The bones make good stock. Cut thick fillets into serving-size portions to allow even heat penetration.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. It is best wrapped in foil or banana leaves if baking or barbecuing, to prevent it drying out. It is an excellent fish battered for fish and chips.

Goes well with:

Beer batter, beetroot, cauliflower, capers, cornichons, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon, lettuce, lime, mayonnaise, onions, tartare sauce, tomato, white wine vinegar, yoghurt.


Bream, hussar, morwong, redfish, tarwhine, whiting.




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