Other Names: Striped wolffish, Ocean catfish, Seacat
Identification & Biology: There are nine species of wolf fish found in the Anarhichadidae family and of the Perciformes order. They are known to reach lengths of up to 125 cm. (around seven feet or longer) but often average around three feet in length and weigh up to 20 kg (approx. 40 lbs).
Wolf fish have rather fat heads with a large mouth filled with sharp teeth. Their skin has no scales and the dorsal fin on this fish runs the length of its body. Some species, such as the Atlantic wolf fish, have a high commercial value as a food fish. The Atlantic wolf fish is grayish brown in color with dark bands and has a diet that includes starfish, mussels and sea urchins. When eating its prey, this fish will swallow the entire body, shells and all. The prey is then thoroughly chewed with its strong teeth to break it into digestible bits. Cod fishermen often find the Atlantic wolf fish in their nets in large quantities. When this occurs they use extreme caution when handling this voracious predator since it is known to suddenly attack anything, even biting through wood with its teeth.
Range & Habitat: It is found from the British Isles in the east to the coast of Maine in the west. The wolf fish is common along most of the Norwegian coast. North of Bergen you may also find its relatives: Anarchichas minor (with spotted pattern) and Anarchichas denticulatus (dark blue with no pattern). The wolf fish lives in shallow waters and down to 450 meters depth. That means you may find it both off coast and in fjords. It often feeds in areas with see weed. It spawns during the winter months, laying large clumps of eggs amongst stones and seaweed on sea floor.
Market Description: If you can get the toothy beast subdued and into the boat without losing a finger or two, the reward is a lean, relatively firm and delicately flavored fish. The meat is delicate and often served as chops. The skin is so thick that it is sometimes used as leather. In European countries this fish is often commonly called the catfish and is highly popular as a food fish. The wolf fish may look like a cat due to the shape of its head and its eyes. Certainly with their almost fang-like canine teeth, this is a formidable fish to face in the water or on the surface.
Flavor Profile: large flake, firm texture, sweet mild flavor
Special Note: Developing techniques to be farmed
Suitable Sub: Cod, Haddock
Recommended Preparation: Wolf fish is always cooked filleted or in steaks, never whole, and responds best to poaching, braising, pan-frying, steaming or deep-frying. Peterson recommends against grilling it, as it tends to stick.