Popeye’s Tarakihi Recipe

SpotX Wild Foods Recipe from Barry Robson
Prep:20 minutes Cook:20 minutes Difficulty:2
  • 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Spinach washed, stalked and chopped.
  • 500 grams tarakihi fillets (or other white fish).
  • 2 tablespoons butter, extra.
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour.
  • 1¼ cups milk.
  • ½ cup grated tasty cheese.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • 2 tablespoons grated tasty cheese, extra.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in large pan.
  • Add garlic, to taste, and shredded spinach.
  • Stir over heat or microwave until tender. .
  • Spread spinach into shallow ovenproof dish. .
  • Poach/microwave fish until just cooked, chop and spread over spinach. .
  • Melt extra butter in saucepan, add flour.
  • Stir over heat further minute or microwave on high 1 minute. .
  • Remove from heat, stir in milk and return to heat.
  • Stir until mixture thickens, or microwave on high for 3 minutes.  .
  • Stir in cheese and add lemon juice and spread over fish. .
  • Sprinkle grated tasty cheese on top. .
  • Bake in moderate oven180°C for about 20 minutes.
  • Alternatively microwave for about 5 minutes, or until hot.

Tarakihi Tarakihi is a common species found right around New Zealand. They are a popular eating fish, being readily available to recreational and commercial fishers alike.
Tarakihi are silver-grey in colour, with a distinctive black band running down their bodies from behind the head. When the Three Kings Islands opened up to sportfishing, those looking for their dinner between targeting marlin ‘discovered’ an XOS tarakihi, named ‘king’ tarakihi, which has similar great eating qualities and grows to 5-6kg in size. King tarakihi are also caught in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and elsewhere.
Tarakihi are not unlike snapper in that at various times of the year they can be found schooling out over the deep mud or alternatively over deeper reef structure. Known for their longevity, many adults are 10-20 years old, with some even reaching 50 years of age.
When on the bite, tarakihi are voracious feeders. Some anglers affectionately refer to them as ‘Tic Tics’, on account of their repeated peck-like bite. They are commonly caught on ledger rigs tied using small 1/0 re-curved hooks or on commercially-tied rigs such as the Black Magic ‘Tarakihi Terrors’.
Tarakihi has a firm flesh and is easily filleted in the same way you would a snapper. The inside of the gut cavity has a black lining instead of the pearlescent one found in many other species, but don’t let that put you off as the meat is light in appearance and sweet. Tarakihi is a species that lends itself to a variety of approaches from the person in charge of the galley.


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