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The Incredible Raor Fish

They call it the most coveted fish in the Mediterranean. But what is so unique about this mysterious creature?


Raor actually means razor in Ibicenco, reflecting the knife-life appearance of the fish. For scary-sounding creatures they are very timid, and thrust their heads into the sand when threatened. 


In other regions the raor has different names – galan, lorito, papagayo and pompano among them. In the Balearics the catch must never exceed 5kg per boat per day, and if fishermen exceed the limit they face a penalty up to 30000 Euros. 


It is the raor’s salmon-coloured gelatinous skin that makes it so delicious: it has a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth taste and should be cooked very simply in hot oil without removing its scales. 


The best time of year to enjoy the raor is September, when the season begins. You may only fish for raor from September to March, and during the whole season the total catch is rarely over 500kg. 


Traditional Ibicenco fishing boats –llauts– use a simple technique of hook and bait (usually shrimp, squid or mackerel) to catch raor in the shallow waters between Ibiza and Formentera.


The fish are small: only 12cm to 16cm, and are often found hiding in the seagrass in Posidonia, where they camouflage themselves and defend themselves from predators with their tiny, razor-sharp teeth.


The raor fish are hermaphrodites: when they are born they are female and when they mature they become male. It is when they change sex that they change from salmon-coloured to a blue-green skin tone. 


The raor fish never sleeps, much like the island of Ibiza itself. They live –if they are not caught– between 7 and 8 years.