Gemfish, named makataharaki in Maori, are found in depths of 50 – 550 metres around the coastal waters of mainland New Zealand.
The species is typically caught caught by trawl between February and July on the northern and east coasts of the North Island.
Often deemed an “ugly fish”, gemfish have long spindly bodies, smooth, silver skin and large sharp teeth like barracouta. Its deep body, more silvery skin and two lateral lines distinguish gemfish from other fish of the same family.
Delicious on its own, or incorporated into a dish, gemfish is an extremely versatile and tasty eating fish.
White to pink in colour, fillets have a delicate, melt-in mouth texture and medium to high fat content that’s well suited to being baked, barbequed, marinated or pan-fried. Once cooked, the fillets flake easily, making them an ideal protein for stirring through pastas and risottos.
The integrity of gemfish and its lack of pinbones make it an excellent choice for smoking. Its long curved bones are easy to remove and retaining them during the smoking process yields a succulent fillet that’s full of flavour.
Gemfish with babaganoush
For a light meal, try crunchy gemfish with babaganoush. In a bowl, combine 1 tbsp oats, 1tbsp quinoa, 1 tsp walnuts and 1tsp hazelnuts.
Place in an oven at 180 °C for 10 minutes, then blitz in a food processor to form a crumb.
Place one whole eggplant under a grill (highest setting) and leave for 5-10 minutes before turning.
Continue grilling until completely soft and the skin is starting to blister.
Remove from the grill, cut off the top of the eggplant and peel away the skin.
Baste two gemfish fillets with coconut oil, top with the crumb and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C depending on the fillet size. The fish will flake once cooked.
Place the eggplant meat into a food processor with 2tbsp tahini, the juice of half a lemon, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp parsley. Blend until smooth, season to taste. Spoon the babaganoush onto two plates and top with the gemfish.
For more ways to enjoy seafood, visit www.seafood.co.nz/recipes/