One fish, two fish, which fish?

My son loves to eat fish, which means that I need to cook fish about 1-2 times a week. You might think that it’s easy to buy fresh fish here since the mainland Chinese are famous for their penchant for fresh fish.

In reality, I find the fishmongers an overwhelming section because other than the white/silver pomfret and some fish fillet, all the other fish species look alien to me!

Check them out…

FISH FILLETS – I’ve only bought the gray, scaly one on the left. And perhaps the smooth, silvery one on the right.

I usually ask if the flesh is firm or mushy and whether there are a lot of fishbones. Once, we ordered a steamed soy sauce fish from the Chinese restaurant (for the kids) but since I found tiny, thin bones in almost each piece I flaked through, the entire fish was dumped! :-( That’s why I’m careful as I do not want to waste food.

FISH HEADS AND A BLOODY RED SPECIES
Since I have a few packs of “instant fish head curry”, I may buy a fish head (after I find out what species it is) to cook. We have been yearning for some curry / spicy stuff after weeks of eating bland soups due to the girl’s chicken pox. I wanted to cook the “Stir Fry Curried Squid” again but now that we’re pushing the 40s, I am quite careful about cooking high cholesterol foods :P

Err…notice that bloody red fish next door to the fish head? Looks creepy, doesn’t it? The fishmonger “assured” me that it’s delicious but I don’t think I’ll buy it even if it’s the last fish on earth!

SMALL FLAT, HUMP-BACKED SILVER FISH
One of the neighbourhood old aunties told me that this little fish is nice to cook soup in with ginger and scallions. But I think there are TWO types of these fish because I once bought them with the intention of cooking fish soup. When the maid saw them, she said that type of fish is best for deep frying! Grrr…

No fish soup on the menu yet until I can figure this one out.

SMALL, PINK FISH AND ANOTHER SILVER, HUMP-BACKED FISH
The small, pinkish, silvery fish (top row) are quite common and I have bought them a number of times. The flesh is quite firm to the touch so you can imagine how they turn out when deep fried.

That’s about all I can do with the fish: either deep fried with kunyit or turmeric powder or into a regular, soy-sauce gravy-based dish garnished with scallions.

For the record, Hubby and I are so scared of the second dish already! Even the little fella prefers it deep fried…

If you look at the second row of fish, don’t you think they look quite similar to the gray, hump-backed fish I talked about for fish soup above? These two species have me quite puzzled as to which would be ideal for fish soup. Still trying to figure it out…

PINK, FLAT FISH
I’ve not tried out this species yet simply because they looked really weird! I know it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover but I just can’t bring myself to buy them. Are they common fish???

SMALL AND THIN SMOOTH FISH
No idea what fish this is but I haven’t bought them because they don’t look that “meaty”. Since the kids are still so small, I tend to go for fleshy fish without having to worry about fish bones etc.

LONG, SILVER FLAT FISH
The Chinese love buying this fish but I have not tried it either for the same reason above. Who knows? If I get really tired of the same old fish, I may try this fish out.

I was quite lucky to be able to snap these fish photos from one fishmonger I happened to buy a lot of fish from. They don’t really like you taking photos!

There is a really WEIRD looking fish with a misshapen head and an eye, which makes it look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame but I didn’t spot it at this fish stall.

I think that fish is sold in the hypermarkets but now that they’ve wised up to phone cameras, they have trained their staff to disallow patrons snapping photos within their premises. The spoilsports.

To date, I only buy 3-4 types of fish in our household. Pathetic, right? I wanted to buy some fish from a lady once but she refused to gut the fish for me. With one “monkey” hanging on to my legs in the kitchen, I don’t have the time to gut fish so too bad then, lady.

Gosh, I feel so homesick now for the regular ikan selar and other “regular” looking fish back home. SIGHHHHHHHHHHHH

3 thoughts on “One fish, two fish, which fish?

  1. When I go to the market, I am also confused by all the different types of fish. So end up just buying the fish I know… so usually pompfret (black and white ones), snapper (red and white), normal grouper, salmon and the yellowtail. That’s about it.
    I know there is Kurau but I don’t know how to see.
    Once I bought this fish that looks like star grouper but turned out donno what. It was soooooooooo blardy tough like eating rock. So takut liow. Better stick to fish I know…

  2. NomadicMom – Don’t you hate that? I once bought some ‘new’ species too but they were rather stale. And guess what? The ayis continued to cook and serve them! I was horrified and asked them if they’d smelled anything fishy. They said “yes” but didn’t want to say anything bad about something we’re going to eat! Speechless.

    Paik Ling – I wonder if there’s a “I only know how to buy a few type of fish only” club? We should both join it, eh? ;-)

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