Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fish Mongering - Cantonese Style

We Cantonese like our fish fresh, preferably alive until we cook it. These in the photograph are mostly grass carp (草鱼, 鲩鱼), except the right on the right, which is a big head carp (大頭魚, 大魚, 黒鰱).

Because the fish is so big, weighting at least several pounds each, most people buy only a piece of it. So the fishmonger cuts up a fish, which is still alive, for display and easy picking by the customer. Often the heart of the fish is still beating even after it is cut into pieces. Fish blood is smudged on it to make it look fresh. So they tend to look red.

Contrast it with the way western style fish mongers display their fish. Typically all blood is washed away, making the fish look white.

Which way do you prefer? Red? or white?

It has been said that we Chinese like our fish to look like a fish as long as possible, even after it is cook, until the moment we put it into our mouths. Westerners, on the other hand, do not like to be reminded that they are eating fish. So they chop off the head, skin the fish, remove the bones, cover up the aroma, to make it look and smell like a piece of bread.

Which way do you prefer? Natural? or processed?

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