In the water Gurnard are colorful and elegant creatures. Like a striking orange dragonfly with wings splotched with green and blue, or streaked with red. The name Gurnard refers to the wider ‘Triglidae’ family and includes the blue fin, grey, orange, eastern, spiny, scaly, spotted and other Gurnards. What generally sets them apart as a family are their interesting pectoral fins. Some have what look like bat-wings, others have what look like feelers and others have spiny protrusions. They forage near the sea floor for crabs and shrimps.
Of the 4 or so varieties of fish available fresh at the supermarket, Gurnard is my favourite. Im clearly not alone on this if the price is any indication – generally twice that of the cheapest fish, Hoki. To my unrefined palate and limited experience the flesh is firmer, meatier and ‘creamier’ – for lack of a better description. When pan-fried it retains its shape and can be picked up as a whole fillet without coming apart. this makes it an excellent candidate for the straight forward flour, egg, panko procedure.
Panko is a new concept to me but immediately makes sense. The light, dry, crispy and very-processed-looking breadcrumbs stick well and stay stuck to the floured and eggy fish, while browning perfectly in the same timeframe it takes for the fish to just cook through. The whole process works best with a generous pour of oil. I’ve heard the same procedure works well with eggplant too.