Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 94 – Snubnose Pompano


Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we are going fishing with snubnose pompano.

One of the difficulties of doing this series is identifying some of the less familiar things I come across. Part of the problem is that there is often no standard name for many vegetables – or if there is, the locals ignore it and use their own. These names are seldom listed in any of my many reference books or on the internet.

This is particularly true when it comes to fish. It’s not that I don’t know about fish. I was born and raised practically on the seashore and seafood is my all time favourite. However, the sea in question was very different from the sea here. For a start it was cold water – very cold. And it connected to the Atlantic. Most seafood here is from Beihai in the south of Guangxi, on the Tonkin Gulf, near the border with Vietnam. The gulf is part of the South China Sea which connects to the Pacific.

This means that there are many species which I don’t know. Some are related of course, but many are not. For example, sea bass (海鲈鱼). Easily available here, and although immediately recognisable, it isn’t exactly the same as what I ate at home. The sea bass landed here is Japanese Sea bass (Lateolabrax japonicus), a slightly different species.

Similarly, the mackerel available looks and tastes exactly like mackerel, but here it is the confusingly named Japanese Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius), known locally as 马交鱼 rather than the Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) I would be eating back home.

However, when I meet a fish I don’t recognise and only know it is 金鲳 in Chinese, I’m a bit stumped. I know is ‘gold’ and that is something fishy – one of my dictionaries rather unhelpfully defines it as ‘a kind of fish’. Another defines it as ‘pomfret’, a fish I do know and, though there is a resemblance, I’m sure my example isn’t pomfret. Or a  goldfish.

snubnose pompano

Snubnose Pompano or Silver Pompano – Trachinotus blochii – 金鲳

Some digging around finally revealed his true name. It sounds like the name of a character from The Sopranos”, but this is a Snubnose Pompano (Trachinotus blochii), a species of pompano native to a thin strip of the coastal waters running from from southern Japan, round the Chinese coastline, past Beihai, then down the east coast of SE Asia, past the Philippines and almost to Australia. Alternative names include Silver Pompano, Ladyfish, Moonfish etc.

This one ended found itself in RT Mart where it cost me ¥9.80. It was 25cm from tip of tail to its snub of a nose and weighed 330g before gutting etc.

These are usually simply steamed for ten minutes with the usual aromatics: Shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic, spring onion (green onion) and perhaps fermented black beans.

. This entry was posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013 at 7:00 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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