Distribution – Banded morwong inhabit exposed rocky headlands and coastal reefs, from Seal Rocks in NSW, throughout Victorian and Tasmanian waters to Robe in South Australia. They are also found in New Zealand, where they are known as red moki.
Size – They are the largest of the morwongs, reaching a maximum length of approximately 70 centimetres and 15kg in weight.
Characteristics – The reddish-silver body displays approximately 8 thick bands, which vary in colour from reddish-brown to almost black in juveniles. Banded morwong feed on reef-dwelling shellfish and crustaceans, however, they are caught by spearfishers more often than by line fishers. They are a highly regarded tablefish.
Confusing species – Banded morwong are similar in shape and colour to the red-lipped morwong. They lack the characteristic brown spots of the re-lipped morwong and the distribution of these species does not overlap.
The size of these species makes them excellent for presentation—especially if deep-fried whole and served with a coriander, chilli and lime dressing. Alternatively, wrap the finfish in foil and bake with lemon and fresh parsley, then douse with a warm vinaigrette of lemon, virgin olive oil and toasted sesame seeds. Score flesh on both sides before cooking to allow for even heat penetration.
Morwongs also marry well with the flavours of teriyaki, chilli, basil and coconut milk, when used in fragrant seafood curries.
Morwongs can be used in place of snapper or red emperor as an inexpensive centrepiece for a buffet.