Sun 26 May

The Best Seafood Species to Eat in Winter

Winter is a fantastic time to enjoy Australian seafood, for a multitude of reasons.  

Firstly, many species put on fat in response to colder waters, and are therefore juicier and more flavoursome than in other seasons. Secondly, reduced demand (due to many Aussies only consuming seafood in the warmer months) brings the prices of many species right down, meaning you have the chance to score yourself a deal. 

Check out this list of our top species for winter to learn about the seafood species that come into their best form in the cooler months. 

King Prawn

We’re kicking off this list with an Aussie favourite, prawns! King Prawns are one of the biggest types of prawn (some can even grow up to 30cm in length!), and are generally wild-caught from estuaries and the ocean all around Australia. Like all seafood, prawns require very little cooking, and it is always best to undercook rather than overcook them, lest they become tough.

In summer, cooked King Prawns are the perfect specimens for just peeling open and eating them cold. However, in cooler weather, you’ll be more likely to cook them yourself into a cosy dish. Our suggestions are either these warm Steamed Prawn Dumplings, or these tasty Stir-fried Ginger and Honey Prawns (add chilli flakes for some extra heat!).


Sea Mullet 

Your favourite fish’s favourite fish, Mullet have been loved by those in the know for tens of thousands of years in Australia, everywhere on the East coast. This hardy fish is at home in the freshwater upper reaches of estuaries as it is in the ocean, and will take on a corresponding estuarine or marine flavour.  

Despite these variations in flavour, all Mullet share an uncommonly high levels of omega-3 in their generously distributed fat, and it is the flavour in this fat that is the secret to their appeal. Use cooking methods that are likely to char the skin, and render the fat - barbecuing, roasting or placing skin-side up under the grill for a few minutes.  

Due to Mullet’s wide distribution as well as their schooling nature, Mullet are easy for our fishers to target, and cheap to buy. At the peak of the Autumn/Winter Mullet run on the NSW coast, the price can get as low at $2/kg, though they usually retail for closer to $5 to $8 per kilo for whole fish. 


Australian Salmon  

Not to be confused with Atlantic Salmon, Australian Salmon (Arripis trutta) is actually in a scientific family all its own. This species is not only often confused with other fish of similar names, but it also represents one of the strongest examples of the gulf between reputation and actual eating quality.  

This is a fish that responds particularly well to proper handling methods, such as brain spiking, bleeding, and a speedy placement into ice slurry. Good handling methods make for a clean, firm, meaty fillet that is excellent as crumbed fish pieces, minced in fish cakes, barbequed, smoked, or even as sashimi.   

Australian Salmon comes into great form in winter, with especially strong supply coming up to Sydney Fish Market from South Australia, Tasmania and Southern Victoria. 


Longfin Eel 

Born in tropical waters off the coast of New Caledonia, the first thing this species must do is manage to navigate thousands of kilometres, all the way back to freshwater streams, rivers, and dams on the East coast of Australia. They then spend a few years maturing, enjoying a diet befitting of their status as apex predators (crustaceans, fish, molluscs, insects and even juvenile birds).  

Male Longfin Eel are capable of reaching lengths of over 1.7m and weights of over 22kg, with females smaller.  to see their incredible size for yourself! 

But no matter what the size or gender, Longfin Eels possess one of the richest, most complex meats in seafood. Though there are many ways to enjoy Eels, the best methods are ones that work with this richness, such as barbequing or hot-smoking.  

King Threadfin Salmon 

We  featured this magnificent fish in a  last year, right as supply of it was starting to make its way onto our auction floor. In winter, this fish is much more commonly seen, and is a fantastic alternative to Barramundi. 

Its flavour is lovely and sweet as a result of its diet: small crabs, prawns and worms, which it detects using its catfish-esque fin filaments below its face. The firm flesh of Threadfin Salmon holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles, and can even be cubed for kebabs. 


Tailor (aka Bluefish) is one of the most popular recreational fishing species along the west coast of Australia, named for their ability to cut through fishing nets with their razor-sharp teeth! While there is only a small commercial industry for this fish in Australia, you should still be able to get your hands on it if you ask your fishmonger. 

They live in large schools and feed aggressively on mostly small baitfish, which impart an evenly distributed oil throughout the flesh. This is a species that benefits from proper handling, and as most Tailor are line-caught, this has become standard practice. 

With a rich, strong flavour, Tailor’s high oil content makes it ideal for cooking methods that use high, direct heat (think grilling or barbecuing). Ideal flavours to go with this species include tomato, oregano, basil, thyme, fennel, citrus and balsamic.


Orange Roughy 

Consumers are often concerned about the sustainability of Australian Orange Roughy.   When fishing for this species started in the mid 1980s, little was known about their lifecycle given the depths they live (500- 1000m).  We now know they live for a long time and reproduce when they are around 30 years old.  By the late 1990s, as knowledge about their life cycle improved and catches began to fall, concern grew about their sustainability. As a result, since the early 2000s, fishing for Orange Roughy has been managed under a rebuilding or recovery program, which means strict catch limits , spatial closures to protect spawning, a robust scientific monitoring program and both strong enforcement (and compliance) of management measures.

As a result, customers can be reassured that any Australian Orange Roughy you see in a fishmonger has been caught in a fishery that is managed with the primary objective of ensuring the sustainability of this amazing species.

These fish gain some delicious fat stores in winter, and work beautifully in hearty recipes, such as this Baked Whole Fish with Olive and Walnut Stuffing, or cooked in this Coconut Curry Sauce


Garfish (Southern and River) 

Found in shallow, coastal waters almost everywhere in Australia, the Garfish is one of the few species in Australia that could be said to have lost popularity over time.  

This is almost certainly due to their preponderance of very fine bones coming off the spine, even though they’re so fine that they can be eaten with no discomfort. Traditional Garfish recipes often mention rolling the body with a milk bottle to gently break the bones (although milk delivery ceased over 50 years ago). But we can guarantee that Garfish haven’t lost their sweetness or unique flavour!  

In fact, they remain one of Australia’s finest fish, still highly prised by top chefs such as John Niland, who crumbs butterflied Garfish and serves them with a yoghurt tartare and herb salad. You can also try crumbing and frying just one side of the fillet, allowing the natural presentation of the fish as well as a moreish crunch.