It has a mild taste with firm, finely-textured white flesh. Sellers like it because it retains its eating quality even when frozen.
Orange Roughy lives in the waters around Australia and New Zealand, and in the Atlantic from Iceland down to South Africa and Chile. It lives very far down, about 1 km below the surface.
In fact, the species wasn’t discovered until 1889, off the Azores by a Dane studying fish.
It has a lifespan estimated at 150 years, but grows very slowly. In fact, the fish don’t even start to breed until they are between 25 and 30 years old.
They eat shrimp, fish and squid. They tend to live around the tops of undersea mountains, and around plateaus and canyons. At breeding time, they will gather in large schools of fish. The eggs float upwards in the water, and hatch in around 8 days.
The fish caught are generally 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) long, weighing 2 to 4 pounds (900g to 2 kg.)
Commercial fishing started in Australia and New Zealand around the end of the 1970s. It was made possible by 200 mile (370 km) fishing-zone limits, and new technology that enabled them to catch fish that far down. The fish are caught by trawling from June to August, while the fish are coming together to reproduce.
This approach obviously creates problems, because it means no reproduction happens, which is particularly problematic in fish whose stock takes longer to regenerate. Quotas were introduced in Australia and New Zealand by the mid-1980s, but many people are opposed to their still being caught at all at this stage in their life cycle.
New Zealand is the largest exporter (as of 2006) of Orange Roughy. Some is exported processed or chilled, but most is exported as frozen boneless fillets. It is frozen right at sea, then back on shore, it’s thawed partially, then cleaned, skinned, filleted, refrozen, packaged and shipped.
Use within 2 days once it’s thawed.
Remove and discard packaging. Rinse, then dry with paper towel.
Bake, broil (aka grill in the UK), fry, steam or poach.
Brush with oil or melted butter before dry cooking.
To fry, dredge first.
It is cooked when flesh is opaque.
Frozen can be stored 3 to 4 months frozen.
The name “Orange Roughy” was coined because its previous name, Slimehead, wouldn’t be appealing to consumers.