Star Butterfish
Whole Star Butterfish [Pacific Harvestfish, Peprilus medius   |   American Harvistfish Peprilus paru]

The Pacific Harvestfish is found from the southern tip of Baja California to southern Peru and around the Galapagos Islands. It is caught wild and is not considered threatened. The Atlantic Harvestfish is found from Maine, through the Caribbean and as far south as northern Argentina. It is also caught wild and is not considered threatened.

The photo specimen, a Pacific Harvestfish, was caught wild in Ecuador. It was 8-1/4 inches long and weighed 4-1/8 ounces.

More on Butterfish.


This fish has a pleasant taste somewhere between mild and medium. Head-off fish can be either pan fried with a light powdering of rice flour, or can be deep fried. Fillets can be pan fried skin-on and patted flat.

Buying:   These fish are quite common in the Philippine fish markets here in Los Angeles, generally sold on ice.

Scales:  There are supposed to be a few tiny scales, just enough to be kosher, but you'd be hard pressed to find them.

Beheaded Star Butterfish Cleaning:   The only practical way to clean this fish is to cut off the head as shown in the photo. The body cavity is very short, and the innards are mushy and poorly defined, but scrape out fairly easily.

Filleting:   This fish is fairly easy to fillet with easy to follow bones. Your knife will separate the ribs from the backbone, but they are easy to pull from the fillet. There is a strong diagonal bone at the aft end of the body cavity.

Yield:   A 4-1/8 ounce fish yielded 2-1/4 ounces of skin-on fillet (55%) and 2 ounce skin-off (48%).

Skin:   The skin has a stronger flavor than the flesh, but not unpleasantly so. In the frying pan it will curl the fillet, then loose its grip so the fillet can be patted flat. After cooking the skin can be pulled off easily if desired. Skinning raw fillets is difficult because both the skin and the flesh are very delicate.

Stock:   Heads, bones and fins, simmered slowly for 40 minutes, produce a clear stock with almost no oil - but it has an unpleasant odor and even less pleasant, somewhat bitter taste - not recommended.

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