Gurnard

Gurnard Also known as sea robin in the USA, varieties of gurnard (from the Triglidae family) found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans have only recently gained a reputation as being worth cooking. However, gurnard is part of the traditional cuisine of the South of France (where grondin is the common name), of which the classic Provençal stew bouillabaisse is a fine example. This fish has a triangular-shaped, bony head, a tapering body, and noticeable pectoral fins. Several species are sold in Europe, including yellow, red, and grey gurnard, and tubs. Species are available in the USA and Australia. Usually 25–40cm (10–16in) long, they can reach 60cm (231/2in). Over 40 per cent of their weight is made up of bone. The head (with gills removed), bones, and skin make good fish stock. Gurnard has many pin bones and is tricky to prepare, as it has sharp dorsal spines and spiny barbs at each gill flap. The head can be removed and the fillets lifted off either side of the "tail".

Red gurnard (Aspitrigla cuculus)

Also known as cuckoo gurnard and soldier, this is one of the most readily utilized of the species in Europe. It is caught around the coast of Britain and further south to the Mediterranean. Look for brightness of colour (the deep red or orange colour begins to fade as the fish loses condition).

Grey gurnard (Eutrigla gurnardus)

This member of the group is also found in the Eastern Atlantic from Norway to Morocco, Madeira, and Iceland. Gurnard are distinctive in appearance and therefore easy to identify on the fishmonger’s slab. The sweetly flavoured flesh can be roasted or barbecued; it requires a little olive oil or a pancetta or chorizo jacket to help prevent it drying during cooking.

CUTS Usually whole (ungutted).

EAT Cooked: Try gurnard roasted, pan-fried, and grilled.

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