Australia, Food & Dining

Mangrove Jack – Serial Killer or Fine Fare?

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Anyone ever sampled a Mangrove Jack? Forgive my ignorance but this is the first time I’ve cooked this Northern Queensland fish with a name that sounds more like a serial killer than a rather palatable fish.

Not being an angler of any notoriety, I cooked, not hooked this fish. He turned up in my local supermarket deli in fillets and after wrapping in foil and slow baking with lemon juice and butter, he was surprisingly tasty. The flesh was more like a steak, really – meaty, not flaky.

Turns out, our Mangrove Jack is, in fish terms rather a meaty, mafia type. In fact, the Aussie fisherman’s bible, Grant’s Fishes of Australia describes the fish thus:

“It is a violent ruffian; a hooligan; a thug; a close associate of terrorists.”

Apparently the modus operandi of this notorious killer is to ambush its prey with a vicious attack on anything venturing close to its lair.

“With a powerful sweep of their broad tail they will actually swim past the “food” and hit it going full pelt back to its home.”

Anglers are also at the mercy of this brute force. If their reflexes are a tad slow, or their line not taut enough, in a split second, Mangrove Jack has hit the throttle and escaped the frying pan.

I’m rather glad he didn’t escape mine.

Filed under: Australia, Food & Dining


Lois Nicholls is an Australian freelance journalist. She is also the author of "Aussie, Actually," which captures her heartfelt experiences as a South African migrant living in Australia. Her second book, "Bye-bye Bikini", published in August 2018, is a series of frank and humorous essays navigating everyday life from the perspective of a fifty-something former newspaper and magazine journalist. Her first children's book, "What Dog is That?" available in hardcopy from was published in May 2019. Her books on Amazon: