Native California freshwater blackfish was once a staple in San Francisco and Oakland Chinatown restaurants. These days, it’s quite a bit harder to find, to the disappointment of alfredck.

It turns out that you can get blackfish, called soong yue in Chinese, at a fishmonger like Wing Hing Seafood, and arrange to have it cooked at a restaurant like Kirin. It’s excellent steamed, with a very mild flavor and buttery soft texture that goes perfectly with just soy sauce and peanut oil. Kirin’s rendition of rainbow raw fish salad, with pickled ginger, cilantro, five-spice peanuts, fried noodles, fried wonton skins, and wafer-thin slices of fish, is pretty good but not as complex and impressive as it could be.

The chef at New Woey Loy Goey does a great job with this fish when it’s available, says sfbing. “Soong yue peen choi sum” is stir-fried choi sum vegetable and barely cooked thin slices of fish. Tiny bones can be a problem with this fish, but he’s a pro at avoiding them. Note that it’s not cheap, though. The restaurant also has delta snails in black bean sauce right now, another SF Cantonese classic.

Wing Hing Seafood [Chinatown]
633 Clement Street, San Francisco
415-668-1666

Kirin [Richmond District]
6135 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
415-752-2268

New Woey Loy Goey [Chinatown]
699 Jackson Street, San Francisco
415-399-0733

Board Link: Sacramento Blackfish (soong yue/steelhead/hardhead/shad)

See more articles