Butterfish

Maori name: marari
Scientific name: Odax pullus
Availability: Year round
Weight: 1–1.5kg, up to 2.5kg
Length: 30–50cm, reaching 70cm

 

Butterfish

Maori name: marari
Scientific name: Odax pullus
Availability: Year round
Weight: 1–1.5kg, up to 2.5kg
Length: 30–50cm, reaching 70cm
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General

 

Location

They are found only around the New Zealand coast, and are widespread, feeding on kelp beds over shallow rocky outcrops. They are rarely found at depths greater than 15 metres. Butterfish are more abundant south of East Cape, especially around Cook Strait.

Attributes

Body colour varies according to size and sex. Young fish are golden-bronze with broken white, mid-body stripes. Adults are brown to olive green. Breeding males are bright blue with a light blue stripe on the head. The largest fish are dark blue-black when pulled from the water. The body is streamlined and plump with large anal and dorsal fins, a pointed head, and a small mouth.

Family

Butterfish are also called Greenbone because their bones have a greenish tinge. Butterfish belong to the Odacidae family (butterfishes). Butterfish are not related to the Warehou species of the Centrolophidae family, which are also called Butterfish in Japan and other countries.

Spawning

The small fish are females that do not change sex until they reach 35-40 centimetres in length. Males establish territories and pair with several females. Spawning takes place from late winter to early summer.

Sustainability

The main butterfish fishery is centred on Cook Strait, between Tasman Bay, Castlepoint and Kaikoura; a smaller fishery is located around Stewart Island. Butterfish were introduced into the Quota Management System in 2002.  Butterfish are targeted commercially by set nets in shallow coastal waters, principally around the kelp beds they feed.

Fishing methods

Butterfish are caught commercially year-round in set nets.

Nutrition

Butterfish is a good source

To quality for a 'good source' claim the food must contain at least 25% of the RDI.
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is considered to be the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 per cent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal neurological function and it contributes to blood formation, energy metabolism and to the growth and development in children

; and a source

To quality for a 'source' claim the food must contain at least 10% of the RDI.
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is considered to be the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 per cent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

of Iodine

Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, for normal neurological function and for normal energy metabolism, and it contributes to the growth and development in children

, Iron

Iron is necessary for the transport oxygen, for normal immune system function and for normal neurological development in the foetus, and it contributes to energy production and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

, Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for normal nerve and muscle function and for teeth and bone structure and it contributes to normal energy metabolism

, Phosphorus

Phosphorus is necessary for normal teeth, bone and cell membrane structure and for energy metabolism

, Potassium

Potassium is necessary for water and electrolyte balance, it contributes to the functioning of the nervous system and normal muscle function; and to the normal growth and development of children

, Selenium

Selenium is necessary for normal immune system function and for the production of thyroid hormones and it contributes to the maintenance of hair and nails

and Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin (vitamin B3) is necessary for the release of energy from food and for the normal structure and function of skin and mucous membranes, and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

.

Seafood is a highly nutritious food and is a great source of protein

Protein is necessary for tissue building and repair, normal growth and development of bone in children and adolescents aged 4 years and over, and contributes to growth and maintenance of muscle mass

. Many species are low in saturated fat and a number of them are a good source of Omega 3

Omega 3 is a group of fatty acids that contribute to heart health

.

Tips

Butterfish are prized for their very clean, delicate flavour, translucent flesh and ability to flake well. This fish is also wonderfully tender and moist when cooked, hence the 'butteriness' they are attributed with. Try butterfish baked; marinated; poached; smoked; grilled; or fried.

Buying & Storage Tips

When buying whole butterfish, always check the...
EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil
GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills
SKIN: Bright, with a luminous sheen

When buying butterfish fillets, always check the...
FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy

If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.