Friday, February 6, 2009

Belt Fish - The Hubei Jade Roll

Since work is relentless and crazy, my entries are a bit backed up.  However, earlier this week when I first initiated the "Thirty-Odd Days of Fish" experiment, I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time.  I bought a belt fish from Seafood City.

Also known as ribbon fish, these poissons are long, eel-like, and toothy.  Found in all oceans, they tend to live in deep waters.  Apparently, the belt fish's Taiwanese cousins are said to appear following earthquakes.  Fascinating, right?

So now to the important stuff: how do you eat them?

I found a pretty simple recipe from the eastern province of Hubei, China.  The belt fish has lots and lots of bones, so you kind of have to slice it carefully to get the meat away from the spine.  Once you do that, you end up with very thin, long pieces that you cut into segments.  To each segment, I added bamboo shoots, ham (the recipe called for it, thus I don't consider this a violation of the experiment!), and scallions.  Then you roll the segments up and steam them while you make a lovely sauce.  I improvised slightly by adding plum wine to the steaming water which gave the fish some added flavor.  I also skipped putting ginger IN the fish rolls since I hate biting into bits of ginger, and instead steamed the fish on thin disks of ginger.  I also added plum wine to the broth, with shitake mushrooms, scallions, and very small bits of ginger.  I served it over steamed rice with a cold white wine.

Overall, it was a pretty good recipe.  At once mild but flavorful.  Amazingly, the store-bought smoked ham (probably more suited for ham and cheese sandwiches) actually tasted great paired with the belt fish.  (I'm sure this is actually a blasphemous combination for purists!) I loved that there were no bones to worry about.  The best part was really the broth.  I learned that the best part of this Chinese dish is to start with a good chicken broth (again, not a violation of the experiment) and, whenever possible, add plum wine.

1 comment:

Brian Tuey said...

I really enjoyed the belt-fish until the very last bite, which I found "fishy".

The fish itself was also really boney, but that wasn't too bad.