Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

snoek as it is called in S. Africa, or barracouta (the Australian name, not to be confused with barracuda, a different fish), Thyrsites atun, is a fish which exists in abundance in the southern hemisphere—Australasia, S. America (e.g. Chile where it is highly valued as sierra), and S. Africa. Maximum length 135 cm (54"). The coloration, steel blue over silver, is typical of pelagic fish.

Snoek is an important food resource, and its flesh is of good quality. During and after the Second World War it acquired an undesirable reputation in Britain, whither large quantities of it in cans were imported from S. Africa, largely because the British public were tired of being exhorted to eat things they did not really like, and especially things handicapped by quaint names like ‘snoek’, the offputting character of which had not been perceived by the civil servants charged with the task of promoting it.