Sunday, March 11, 2007

Scale it, Gut it, Eat it

Mentioning fish in my last post inspired me. I couldn't remember eating steamed fish since those late night trips to Ming Sing in Yau Ma Tei with Daisy and the gang.

After teaching the old men's class on Saturday morning I bought a whole one from a stand on Portobello Road. I then subjected the entire upper floor of the #7 bus to fish stink, all the way back to Tottenham Court Road.

Only back in my kitchen with the fish in my hands did I realise that it still had scales and guts intact. I tried to cast my mind back to childhood when mum (a biology teacher) made us bring a dead shark home from the beach and dissect it with the kitchen scissors.

My memory failed me. I could only remember how hard it was to cut and how much it stunk after we did. I asked my assistant with clean hands to google 'how to scale and gut a fish'. I don't know how people coped before the internet. I guess they had to think for themselves.

The process was time consuming but not difficult. And the effort made the end product very satisfying. I cooked chicken wings too because not everyone loves fish. And the gai laan is my most guilty pleasure - it's air freighted from China (evil food miles!) and outrageously expensive. It cost more than the fish and almost three times as much as the chicken wings. Possibly because of this, it's also incredibly delicious.

And sweet potato soup for dessert made it a very nice meal. Almost as good as Ming Sing. Daisy's mum wasn't there to drop the prized fish's cheek muscles in my bowl but I did think of her as I ate them.


Knuffy's Owner said...

WOW! That looks delicious. You should open your own restaurant : )

Btw, the most annoying thing about being vegetarian is not having to deny yourself stuff. It just feels natural not eating meat. What bothers me most is the constant interrogations, i.e. "So why are you vegetarian?" I never go around questioning every carnivore, "So why do you eat meat?"

Joe said...

I could never cook for a living - for a start I'm too slow!

My 'no gluten' thing is turning out quite similar. I'm hardly gasping for a slice of bread. And I prefer eating my own cooking anyway.

It's just the drama of having to explain that you can't eat something that gets tiring.

Anonymous said...


Looks nice Jo.
Those food miles aren't half as bad as that Patagonian Tooth Fish I had for my Birthday. Eating an endangered species is an... experience! Don't do it

pip said...

Hi Joe-
Good work! Fish looks yum...
I always buy live fish from the local market. The seller usually kills them quickly and skillfully... but one time 1 of the 2 fish I'd bought was still wriggling in the plastic bag on the kitchen bench when I got it home. I asked one of the girls to help me and said a short prayer of thanks for the fish as she bashed it over the head again... Now I always ask the seller to scale the fish too because then I know it will be dead by the time I receive it.
BTW Thanks for the reminder of the story of our first Sunday School meeting!

Cal said...

Oh yum.

Pip, that story reminds me of the time my market fresh fish in China escaped from it's plastic bag and wriggled across my kitchen leaving a trail of blood across the floor.

Likewise, I had to call someone else in to deal with it. Wimpy Western upbringing.

Joe said...

Bring on the fish stories!

Anonymous, are you trying to protect your identity having eaten an endangered species? Patagonian Tooth Fish? You must be in Hong Kong!

Pip and Cal, your stories reminded me of that old lady in Man Tong who lurked by the stream with a big stick and caught fish by whacking hard and then flipping them out of the water.

Vincent chao said...

You should try the chinese/asian food in Oriental City in Colindale, North London. There is a big food court like those you find in HK.

Joe said...

mmm... I've been there once and was really impressed. I had some great do fu fa.

The annoying thing is that I've got celiac disease and can't eat anything with wheat. That includes soy sauce (apart from Tamari) and therefore most things you would find in a food court!

So sad lah but at least it means that my own cooking is improving!

Vincent from Islington said...

You are more chinese than me!