Catch of the day

There’s a new fish on the block.

delicious - - CONTENTS - @huck­ster­gram @an­thuck­step de­li­cious.com.au/food-files For more tips on buy­ing and stor­ing fresh seafood. Search de­li­cious.com.au for ‘co­bia carpac­cio’ to find the recipe

CO­BIA IS SOME­WHAT of a co­nun­drum, al­beit a de­li­cious one. Is it a fish, a chicken or a duck? Well, it may seem nei­ther fish nor fowl, but it is, in fact, a new hero of Aus­tralia’s aquaculture in­dus­try.

Some­times known as black king­fish – which is con­fus­ing – it is a pelagic species (swims in the mid-level, nei­ther at the bot­tom nor the shore) and has the ex­ter­nal and flesh ap­pear­ance of the yel­low­tail king­fish. But it is of no di­rect re­la­tion to one of our most pop­u­lar eat­ing fish.

Co­bia ac­tu­ally be­longs to the remora fam­ily – those crazy fish with the sucker on their heads that hang off the bot­tom of whale sharks, wait­ing for scraps af­ter a feed­ing frenzy. But Co­bia are no suckers. They’re fast, with a sleek dark-sil­ver body, and roam the open oceans in trop­i­cal wa­ters look­ing for a feed.

“It moves through the wa­ter like a stealth bomber; it re­minds me of how great white sharks swim – fright­en­ingly beau­ti­ful,” says fish fiend John Sus­man of Fish­tales seafood con­sul­tants.

Lone wolves in the wild, they’re not so easy to catch, but here in Aus­tralia they are farmed by Maria Mitris-Honos at the Pa­cific Reef Farm, lo­cated on the edge of the Co­ral Sea at Ayr, in North Queens­land. Mitris-Honos farms her co­bia in sea-wa­ter ponds, where they grow a stag­ger­ing 7kg in 18 months.

Like many aquaculture species, the farmed co­bia is more con­sis­tent and bul­let­proof than the wild fish.

When raw, the firm white flesh is fresh, with light as­para­gus and io­dine notes, fin­ish­ing with a clean egg­white char­ac­ter­is­tic, but what sets it apart from king­fish is ev­i­dent when it’s cooked.

“Where the yel­low­tail king­fish car­ries fat through the mus­cle, which ren­ders quickly and falls out on cook­ing, the co­bia re­tains the fat in the mus­cle when cooked and is there­fore more moist,” says Sus­man.

“I like to re­fer to it as a great ‘dad’ fish – it can be left on the bar­be­cue for half a can of beer too long and won’t dry out!

“Plus its small scales don’t have the cal­cium con­tent of other pelag­ics, which means it can be cooked with skin and scale on and crisp up like duck skin.”

Fish or fowl, co­bia is a culi­nary star.

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