Māori Name: hoka
Name Scientific: Pseudophycis bachus, P. barbata, P. breviuscula
Availability: July to January
Attributes Weight: 0.8–1.3kg, up to 2.0kg
Attributes Length: 40–70cm
They are found throughout New Zealand seas, more commonly in southern waters at depths of 100 to 300 metres, occasionally as deep as 700 metres. Usually found in schools, they migrate from the outer continental shelf to shallow coastal grounds.
Red-brown above, becoming pink on the sides and belly. The dorsal and anal fins are pink with black margins, and there is a black spot at the pectoral fin base. The vivid colour fades to a greyish pink when first captured. The scales are soft and easily removed, and the skin is slimy. The square-tipped tail and black pectoral spot distinguishes them from their close relatives.
Red cod are members of the Moridae family (morid cods). Related species: Southern bastard cod (P. barbata) and Northern bastard cod (P. breviuscula).
Spawning occurs in August, probably in offshore waters. Red cod are fast-growing but short-lived (few older than six years).
Red cod are caught primarily around the South Island. Natural variations in the number of young fish produced each year have resulted in significant variations in stock abundance and, as a result, management under the Quota Management System allows for rapid changes in catch limits. Stock abundance is monitored via commercial catch rates, with trawl survey abundance indices showing consistent changes.
The catch is seasonal, from November to May/June, peaking in January and May. In spring and summer, Red cod are caught inshore before they move to deeper waters in winter. They are caught mainly in the Canterbury Bight and off Westland by trawling.
Did You Know
The Red cod has a barbel - a protruding fleshy filament - on its lower jaw, which it uses to detect prey buried in mud or sand.
Red cod flesh is delicate with fillets that flake easily when cooked; it is often smoked but can also be fried, baked or poached.
When buying whole red cod, 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 red cod fillets, always check the... FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.