Imperador (Alfonsino)

(Beryx decadactylus/ splendens): WILD CAUGHT

KNOW TO THE PORTUGUESE AS THE “IMPERADOR”, the Alfonsinos are a deep-water species belonging to a family of fish known as Berycidae, which is considered to be ancestors of the perch family. These fish – found worldwide in temperate and tropical latitudes, except the northeast Pacific and Mediterranean Sea – are often taken as bycatch in the hoki and orange roughy fisheries in the Pacific, tend to swim in deeper waters. This species has a bright white body color with scarlet fins and a ridge along its back and head. When this fish dies, the entire body takes on a deep red color, allowing it to be easily mistaken for a red snapper. It is commonly known, however, as a red “bream” or red “porgy”- despite being an entirely different species.

Other names for this fish include dorade rouge, alfonsim,  and kimmedai (in Japan, where it is popular sushi item). The smaller beryx splendens – a close cousin to decadactylus – is sometimes called “goldeneye perch”, “golden snapper” or the “splendid alfonsino” (presumably due to its dramatic color). Alfonsino are found in temperate and tropical waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic, but the greatest commercial fisheries are located off the coasts of New Zealand, Portugal, and Japan. Sizes range from as a small as 500 grams to over 3 kilos when caught. Browne Trading Co. purchases our fish – which is often difficult to procure on a steady basis –from inshore Portuguese fisheries using hook and line.

Prized in Europe for its flavor, the low-fat, soft white flesh of the imperador is mild tasting and can be prepared in ways similar to snapper, bass or true seabreams. Moist heat – steaming or poaching – will assist in preparing the somewhat dry flesh, as will sautéing and deep-frying. It is also considered excellent in soups or casseroles.

Catch Region: Portuguese Coastal Waters

Seasonality:  Year Round but Limited Availability

Catch Method: Line Caught

Yield (Fillet Percentage): About 50 %

Flavor Profile: Mild and Sweet
Texture Profile: Delicate to Medium Firm

Substitute:

  • Red Snapper
  • Sea Bass
  • Sea Bream