Grilled Tarakihi and spicy kumara salad.

A popular table fish, Tarakihi has donned the menus of Kiwi restaurants and takeaway joints for decades.

This species is distinguished by its silver-grey and compressed body, forked tail and a distinctive black band running between the head and dorsal fin.

Highly sought after by both commercial and recreational fishermen, Tarakihi has been fished commercially in New Zealand for more than 100 years.

It is most abundant south of East Cape, around Cook Strait and on the east and west coast of the South Island, where it is caught year-round, peaking between February and July. 

Tarakihi is a versatile fish.

It has a medium to firm white flesh and a low to medium oil content that complements a variety of cooking methods – baking, grilling, poaching, frying. It fares equally well when added to soups, curries and chowders.

When buying Tarakihi, ensure it’s fresh by checking the eyes are bright, shiny and clear. The gills should be pastel pink in appearance and the skin bright, with a luminous sheen. Fillets should be glossy, semi-transparent and firm. 

Despite the delicate flavour of Tarakihi, it works well with both mild and robust dishes, especially those using a variety of fresh herbs and spices.

Tarakihi with Spicy Kumara

For a quick and easy dish, try grilled Tarakihi with a spicy kumara salad: –

Coat two large and diced kumara in 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp curry powder and toss with half a diced red onion. Season, then roast at 200֯C until cooked, approx. 10-15 minutes.

Allow to cool.

Add 1 finely chopped chilli, half a diced cucumber, freshly picked coriander and 3 tbsp yoghurt.

Gently toss to combine. Coat 300g Tarakihi fillets in 1 tbsp olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon and season to taste.

Using a griddle plate or grill, cook the fillets on high heat for 2-3 minutes each side, or until just cooked through.

Take care not to overcook the fish. Remove, then rest. To serve, place the kumara salad in two shallow bowls, top with the fish and garnish with a sprig of coriander and finely sliced spring onions.

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