WILD JOHN DORY is a unique fish and rare to find in the US. With seemingly no close relative, this odd-looking fish stands out and is prized for its delicious fillets.
The dory has an oval-shaped, flat body, is extremely thin with yellow-brown to grayish olive skin and is covered with fine, tiny scales that require no scaling. The ten long spines on the dorsal fin and trademark “thumbprint” on its side add distinguishing marks. According to fish lore, the black spot comes from the righteous touch of St. Peter (The Patron Saint of Fishermen) . Hence, “St. Peter’s Fish,” or “St. Pierre’s Fish” to the French.
John Dory is a solitary fish, choosing to swim alone along coastlines in search of smaller prey, which are caught and consumed by an extendable, tube-like mouth hinged with a protruding lower jaw. Market size is generally between 2 and 4 pounds, but Dory have bulked up to 20 pounds or more. Dory are caught in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, and halfway around the world along the coasts of New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand, the native Māori know it as kuparu. In the wild, the legendary “thumbprint” actually resembles a large eye, and is probably there to help discourage larger predators (primarily sharks) as well as to confuse and disorient the Dory’s prey – generally school fish such as sardines and squid – while hunting.
Dory has a mild taste and a low-fat content. Due to its thin profile and large head, the fillet yield is low, only a third of the fish’s total weight. For this reason, dory is generally not prepared whole – and why we offer fresh fillets. Sautéing, steaming and poaching are all highly recommended, as well as in soups, stews, and bouillabaisse. We also suggest preparing in ways similar to dover sole for best results.
- Western North Atlantic & Mediterranean Sea
- Coastal Northern New Zealand & Australia
Seasonality: Year Round
Catch Methods: Trawl, longlines
Yield (Fillet Percentage): 25-33 %
Flavor Profile: Moist, mild, sweet
Texture Profile: Firm with fine flakes