New Zealand, Wild-caught
John Dory is perhaps the most recognizable of all the New Zealand species and is easily identified by a conspicuous black spot on the side of its olive/brown body. The black spot is used to flash an ‘evil eye’ (also known as ocellus) to predators in order to prevent attack. Also, a legend from biblical times attests the black spot to the thumbprint of St. Peter from when he lay his hand upon this fish. John Dory is the most attractive and best eating of all the dories, and is very popular both within New Zealand and throughout Europe, Australia and the United States.
John Dory inhabits NZ waters from the top of the South Island northwards, and can be very plentiful in some parts of the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Gulf depending on the time of year. It is normally found in similar water depths to that of snapper, from around 30-300 feet.
Our John Dory are caught via day-boat purse-seiners. Every other of our NZ species are line-caught but John Dory will not take an inert bait, so it is impossible to catch them on a commercial level with hook and line and hence purse seiners are needed to harvest them. New Zealand’s John Dory fishery is strictly managed by the Quota Management System, with a sustainable harvest TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) of 1,140 tons.
This fish commands very high market prices and graces the menus of many white-tablecloth restaurants. The flesh is very delicate, and when cooked correctly results in a fillet that has an exquisite texture and flavor which for many is the epitome of seafood fine-dining.