Bang on trend for AW14, the topknot is strange for a number of reasons. It’s a common fish, but rarely seen and very rarely caught.
Their skirt of fins completely surrounds their bodies and they have an almost non-existent tail. They inhabit rocky or broken ground and use their fin skirt like a suction cup to attach themselves to rocks. In fact they can often be seen upside stuck to the underside of a cave or boulder.
They’re quite small, rarely getting bigger than 20cm in length.
As they’re normally found in shallow water on rocky substrates, it’s rare that these are caught in nets. We’ve had a couple in the past year, fishermen always like to catch something unusual and have always pointed them out.
There’s no fishing pressure on topknots, so, if you’re lucky enough to find one, eat away.
Alan Davidson, in his encyclopaedic North Atlantic Seafood, writes only two lines on the topknot, saying: ‘not common, but worth eating if you come across it’.
They’re related to brill- they have a similarly meaty texture and are very good eating. Their size means they cook quite quickly though, so do be careful not to overdo it.