Gurnards are renound for grunting when they are caught. They are able to grunt or growl by the use of muscles associated with the swim bladder, and this is believed to aid in keeping schools together. Their name is likely to derive from the Old French gornard – ‘grunter’ – from the Latin grunnire.
COOKING / EATING BENEFITS
Gurnards are mainly caught by bottom trawlers in mixed fisheries and mostly discarded due to low market demand. Despite its odd appearance gurnard is tasty and full of firm meat which holds well together during cooking. It also has the health benefits of white fish, i.e. high protein, vitamin rich and low in fat. Thanks to popularisation by celebrity chefs, their consumption is increasing and this is helping to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding them overboard. (Rick Stein serves gurnard cooked in beef dripping at his fish and chip shop in Padstow).
Gurnard generally work well in any recipe calling for firm-fleshed white fish such as haddock or monkfish: roasting, stewing, barbecuing, pan-frying or deep-frying will all do the job nicely. Gurnard is excellent in a fish curry and the head and bones make a good fish stock.