Why Eat Gurnard?

huge Tub Gurnard caught by Ben Lowe

Red Gurnard on left caught on newquay sea safaris and fishing trip

Choosing to fish in Newquay with Newquay Sea Safaris and Fishing not only buys you an extremely good value trip where you get to keep all you catch , aboard the two biggest and most stable boats in newquay harbour but allows you to learn the sustainability of the catch and guide what to buy in the shops or supermarkets once you leave sunny Newquay. Here is a great recipe too, so why not give us a call and come and catch your "Fish Supper" this Good Friday ...after all the fun at sea..should keep you warm !!. Here is a great recipe too


4 Red gurnard, whole, gutted and scaled
3 Cloves garlic, minced finely with salt
4 Limes
Big handful coriander, chopped
60 ml EVOO (plus a splash more)
60 ml Palm oil, or use olive oil
3 Red onions, sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
5 Vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 Green peppers, sliced
1 Tin coconut milk
4 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
300g King or tiger prawns (organically farmed), fresh, raw, peeled (but leave the tail on) and de-veined
Salt & pepper
Long grain rice to serve with

  • Rinse the fish and pat them dry. Then cut off the head and tail, and use scissors to trim off the fins.
  • Marinate them in the garlic, juice of two limes, salt, pepper and most of the coriander (saving a bit for the end). Leave for an hour at room temperature, or longer (i.e. overnight) in the fridge.
  • Put half the olive and palm oils into a wide saucepan and fry two thirds of the onion slices over a medium high flame until softened and slightly caramelised – up to 10 minutes.
  • Add half the tomatoes and half the peppers and cook for a few more minutes until softened.
  • Stir in the tomato purée, coat everybody well and then tip in half the coconut milk.
  • Simmer gently for 10 minutes, season, then blitz it in a food processor or using a hand-held blender to a thick puree. Keep this aside (or overnight in the fridge if you like).
  • About 30 minutes before you want to eat, heat the rest of both the oils in a wide saucepan on a high flame (and get the rice on).
  • Put the seasoned flour on a plate and pat the fish in it on both sides. Lower them into the very hot oil and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Lift them out of the pan, add a splash more oil (if it looks like it needs it) and tip in the last of the onions, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Stir on high for about 5 minutes, then add the blitzed mixture and the rest of the coconut milk. Adjust the seasoning as it comes to a simmer, then slide the fish back into the pan, just submerging them in the liquid, and cover with a lid.
  • After 4 minutes, scatter in the prawns (stick the lid back on) and cook for another 3 -5 minutes until the prawns are pink. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  • Finish with chopped coriander, and serve with rice and pieces of lime.
  • Takes half an hour (ideally with an hours marinade first) then around 15 mins to finish off.


The marine Conservation Society have provided info as follows

Best buy - What to ask for

Eating Red gurnard will help reduce the number discarded in fisheries for other target species. Avoid eating immature fish (less than 25cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during their spawning season (summer).

Fishery info

Of the six species of gurnard known in northern European waters, red gurnard is most commonly exploited as a food fish. Gurnards are often thrown back due to low market demand. Increased consumption and demand for the species will alleviate the need to waste fish through the practice of discarding. Most red gurnard are caught by accident by anglers or as bycatch in inshore trawl fisheries. Until recently it was mostly used as bait for crab pots but, as a tasty and more sustainable choice, it is increasingly available.

Oddly, for a species that has no tradition for eating in the UK, the red gurnard has several local names in Britain, including soldier, elleck, rotchet and croaker.


Recognised as both an under-utilised species and one tolerant of fishing, it’s a good choice for consumers.

Dazzling red when fresh, this small fish has a distinctive long sloping forehead. It has a pair of large, fan-shaped fins behind the head which it can use as “feeler feet” to walk over the seabed sensing its prey.

Formerly ignored for eating, this fish is tasty and the cooked flesh comes away leaving the bones behind.

Always choose fish above 25cm in length to avoid eating immature individuals.

Fish biology

Gurnards belong to a family of fish known as ‘sea robins'. Red gurnard is the species most commonly exploited as a food fish. It lives on the seabed and uses specialised pectoral fins to sense crustaceans hiding in the sediment. It can also hunt other small fish.

Gurnards are gregarious and communicate by grunting. They are found in shallow, inshore waters and spawn in summer. They grow fast and mature at a young age but can live a long life.

  • High protein
  • Low fat
  • Good range of vitamins
Why & how to eat?

Despite its odd appearance red gurnard is tasty and full of firm meat which has the health benefits of whitefish, i.e. high protein, vitamin rich and low fat.

Red gurnards are mainly caught by bottom trawlers in mixed fisheries. Gurnards were mostly discarded due to low market demand but following popularisation by celebrity chefs, such as Rick Stein, their consumption is increasing. This helps reduce the wasteful practice of discarding low value or unmarketable fish.

Can be cooked whole after removing the head. Deep fry, bake or use in stews. The flesh holds together well and comes away from the bones with ease.