Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top 10 common fishes to catch and eat

Every angler and fisherman in Singapore has a favourite fish to catch and eat. Here's 10 of the most common fishes you can catch in Singapore and general information on how to eat them. Tips are general and according to the best practices here. Tastes can differ. e.g. Some of us thinks its atrocious to make curry fish out of a nice coral trout.

1. Snappers


Snappers are just about the most common fish in Singapore that you can find. The most common fish in Singapore is the Golden Snapper or Ang Chor but other snappers such as Red Snapper, John's Snapper are also in the mix. Snappers are generally a one fish cooks all type of fish. Larger snappers such as the Ang Kuey are used in curry fish head while the table sized ones are steamed. One can even make fish and chips out of large snappers! Versatility 10/10.

2. Tengerri Batang or more generally known as Mackeral


The mackerals in our water are usually good for fish soup and any good old aunty will tell you how delicious they are. Many famous fish slice porridge or soup in Singapore also use Batang as the main fish. The mackeral is also good for deep fry and usually matched with a black sauce condiment. If you come from Singapore, the main difference you need to know is that this is not the BBQ or grilled mackeral from Japan that we are talking about.

Dr Leslie Tay has a good writeup on Mackerals in Singapore that you can read up on.

3. Toman


The Toman, also known as the Snakehead is the poster fish of Singapore freshwater fishing. There are generally 2 types of Snakeheads that are common here - Haruan and Toman. Most Snakehead on the food tables in Singapore are farmed and not wild. Local anglers are not encouraged to bring back the Toman for consumption. If you have to bring back a wild Toman, you will regret it because the meat is somehow more dry and less fatty than the farmed ones. Trust me because I brought one back before! The Toman is known for it's medicinal qualities and usually used in fish soup or stir fry with vegetables.

4. Grouper


The Grouper is a world famous fish and present all over the world in various forms like Cod, Hapuka and so on. The Singapore species are usually estuary or tropical reef species like Orange Spotted Grouper, Red Groupers (Coral Trout) and Estuary Cod. It is a highly rated fish (especially by the Chinese) and it can be steamed, fried or used in steamboats.

Madai Jigs are very effective for Grouper. You can get some here.

5. Catfish


The Catfish is severely underrated in the Singapore fishing scene and is the one fish most anglers don't bring back home! That is a pity because the Catfish is actually pretty palatable if you know how to cook it. It can be used for Fish & Chips which I have done here. Malay fishermen often use the Catfish for Assam Pedas or Curry dishes.

6. Stingray


The Stingray was never thought of as premium fish until the Singapore BBQ boom happened. The rise of prominence for dishes such as Sambal BBQ Stingray led to much acclaim for this fish. An old fashion way to cook this dish would be using salted vegetables and sambal to stir fry Stingray cubes.

7. Barramundi


The Barramundi is Singapore's most famous fish and affectionately know as the Siakap or Seabass. It is also a heavily farmed fish and prized catch for anglers in Singapore. While the farmed fishes can be very "stinky" and have a heavy fish smell, the wild Barramundi make for excellent table fare. Smaller ones can be steamed while larger ones can be done a variety of ways like Sweet and Sour, BBQ, Curry, Fish & Chips... Just Google online for some ideas.

8. Wrasse

Wrasse fish are delicacies for Chinese cuisine and the Parrotfish (Eng Koh) is the most common fish here. Eng Koh usually goes into the steamer though bigger ones can be oil fried (yao zham). Bigger Eng Koh's also should make excellent Fish & Chips. I've also found that wrasse are best eaten fresh. The cheek and head area of the Eng Koh is highly valued for the high gelatin content.

9. Grunters


Grunters are quite similar to the Snapper and we have the Javelin Grunter & Guhood (long head grunt) in our waters. Grunters follow the same rule as Snappers and they can be cooked in a variety of ways.

10. Chermin


The Chermin is the most common trevally species you can find all over Singapore and it actually tastes good when steamed. Beware though, I usually advise anglers to only steam Chermins below 1.2kg as bigger ones can be a little too firm. For bigger ones, you can do potato balls, otah, fish & chips or even curry fish head.

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