July 28, 2012

We had a nice reef fishing day, a bit windy as we came back to the wharf. Good timing!

Australian salmon are also known as kahawai in New Zealand. They are found in the waters off southern Australia and New Zealand. Our catch came from the waters off the Royal National Park in Sydney. Despite the common name, Australian salmon are not related to the salmon of the Northern Hemisphere. The former were named so by early European settlers after their superficial resemblance to the northern salmon.
Australian Salmon are olive green to steel blue with small dark spots on the back and upper sides, and pale yellow-green to silvery white below. The pectoral fins are bright yellow.
They school in shallow, open coastal waters and can move over reefs in depths just sufficient to cover their bodies. They can tolerate temperature and salinity extremes; seem to prefer cool water around 18 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Australian Salmon are taken by recreational anglers and are popular with beach and rock anglers. We like trolling for them and also to use live bait, i.e. small yellowtail under a balloon, just a metre or two under the surface. As you can see in the picture, it works!
They are a great sport fish and we also like them for dinner. The key is to bleed them quickly on capture, then chill down and put on ice. It is a strongly flavoured fish suitable for smoking, baking or being made into fish cakes.
A couple of little tips here: Poach, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, smoke, pickle. For larger fish and to keep the moisture, marinate and wrap in foil or banana leaves for barbecuing. For a milder flavour, remove the strip of dark red muscle from just beneath the skin. And enjoy with a glass of white wine!

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