Orange Roughy Hopiostethus atlanticus Slimehead
This slow growing New Zealand deepwater fish was first commercially fished in the 1970s and imported in to the United States in the early 1980s where its mild shellfish flavor and very white flesh with a large flake immediately made it popular. It was once passed off as snapper, having a similar taste and texture.
This fish which averages only 15 inches in length and 3 pounds is caught 200 miles off the New Zealand shore or off the Tasmanian coast near South Australia from 200 to 1,800 meters deep. Recently Chile has begun harvesting this species in Juan Fernandez Archipelago. The pressure on this slow producing resource is significant as the age of the landed fish is 30 to 50 years.
The darker the Roughy meat the lower the quality. In New Zealand the Roughy is caught headed, gutted and frozen at sea then thawed, processed and refrozen on land. In Australia where the fish is closer to shore the fish are caught then processed and frozen ashore. This is where the marketing term once frozen is applied Some packers pump Roughy with phosphates so care in purchasing and receiving must be taken.
The fat underneath the skin must be completely removed as it contains an indigestible oily wax that causes diarrhea in humans.