by Ed Halmagyi


What’s in a name? That which we call ‘blue eye trevalla’ by any other name might taste as sweet.

For years now the humble trevalla has been known to Sydneysiders as the ‘blue eye cod’ Catchy name with Mediterranean heritage? Yes. Is the trevalla a member of the cod family? Sadly, no.

In fact, a prominent Sydney journalist has publicly lambasted several chefs over the last few years for this mistake, despite the fact that fishmongers themselves label and sell it as cod.

Honestly, as if it really matters. Language is a fluid beast, and the trevalla (like so many foods) is as slippery as a spy, moving casually between identities. Cod here, trevalla there. In fact its real name is Antarctic Butterfish, although that lacks a certain finesse when spoken. I have more trouble accepting the idea of a coriander and macadamia ‘pesto’ (a classic Italian basil and pine nut-based sauce) than I do the duality of names afforded to one of Australia’s favourite fish.

The trevalla is found in deep cold waters and can weigh up to 60kg. Its hatchlings grow in the great kelp beds of Tasmania before heading to the Southern Ocean to feed on squid, crab and lantern fish. Each female will lay up to 11 million eggs, which gives you an idea of how few make it to maturity. Clearly we are not the only species who finds the trevalla tasty.

As a rich, moist fish the trevalla can be cooked in a wide variety of ways: fry, poach, grill, BBQ, bake or steam.

Trevalla is hard to overcook, but don’t see that as a challenge! Remember your basic principles of fish cookery: less is more!
Poached trevalla with shiitake mushrooms and asparagus

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