Other Names: Roughy, slimehead
Identification & Biology: Orange roughy have a reddish body and a bony head with large eyes. Most fish caught are 30-40 cm long and weigh between 0.9-1.9 kg. (Maximum size is 50 cm and 3.6 kg.) They are a slow-growing, long-lived fish, thought to live up to as much as 150 years.
Range & Habitat: Coastal saltwaters of New Zealand.
Market Description: An all-purpose white-fleshed fish similar to ocean perch. The meat is firm, low in fat, and mild in flavor. Its firm, white flesh and delicate shellfish-like flavor have made it highly popular around the world. The carcass and skin are rich in oil.
Sold as: Fillets, usually frozen (Note: Orange roughy is frozen immediately after the catch, then filleted, refrozen, and exported worldwide. Remarkably, the fish is sturdy enough to handle multiple freezings--you're unlikely to notice a difference in taste or texture.)
Buying tips: Look for pure white fillets free of browning, graying, and gaping. Smell for seawater freshness.
Substitutes: Ocean perch, blackfish, cod, flatfish, haddock, pollock, red snapper
Recommended Preparation: Suitable for nearly all white-flesh fillet cooking styles, such as poaching, baking, broiling, and frying.
Notes: This New Zealand import, which was not "discovered" until 1975, has been gaining in popularity as an all-purpose white fish. Orange roughy is one of New Zealand's most valuable export species. Most are caught on the Chatham Rise. Fisheries have also developed off Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Nambia. You'll find it in specialty fish markets and in well-stocked supermarkets.