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Ingredients

Pomfret and butterfish

Other Names: White pomfret: Achopito (Pakistan); aileron argenté (French); alumbeberas (Filipino); bai chang (Taiwanese); bawal puteh (Malaysian); cá chim trang (Vietnamese); managatsuo (Japanese); pak cheong (Hong Kong); palometa plateada (Spanish); pla jara met khao (Thai); vella vavel (Tamil); yin chang (Chinese). Black pomfret: Bawa hitam (Malaysia, Indonesia); cá chim den (Vietnamese); duhay (Filipino); hak chong (Hong Kong); karuvaval (Tamil); kuroaji- modoki (Japanese); pla jara met dum (Thai). Butterfish: Dollarfish; fieto americano (Italian); ibodai (Japanese); pez mantequilla americano (Spanish); pumpkin-seed; shiner; stromatée à fossettes (French). Stromateidae.

General Description: Pomfret is the name for two deep-bodied narrow fish resembling pompano that are found in Asian
coastal waters. White pomfrets (Pampus argenteus_) grow to 20 inches long, larger than black pomfret (_Parastromateus niger), which only reach 12 inches. Pomfrets follow each other like sheep, a trait exploited by fishermen. Be sure to eat the lower soft fin and the tail of fried pomfret, which are considered delicacies.

Adult pomfrets have no pelvic fins, a trait they share with the similar and related American butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus_), a rare and delicious small fish. In Cape Cod, baby butterfish are dusted in flour and deep-fried whole. Pacific butterfish (_P. simillimus) are also called Pacific pompano. Look for butterfish at good prices in Caribbean and Asian markets.

Locale and Season: White pomfrets are found from the Persian Gulf east to Indonesia and north to Hokkaido, Japan. Black pomfrets are found from eastern Africa to southern
Japan and Australia and are more common in Indonesia and the Philippines. Butterfish are found on the American Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Characteristics: Pomfrets and butterfish have delicious, succulent flesh that is easily separated from the bones. When cooked, the mild meat is fine and flaky with moderate fat and soft, buttery texture. Yield is about 35 percent.

How to Choose: Choose the largest fish because they tend to be small.

Storage: Store whole fish up to 2 days refrigerated on ice.

Preparation:

For whole pomfret, cut shallow slits crosswise into
the flesh starting at the head end.

Grill, pan-fry, steam, or poach whole.

For butterfish, pan-fry, grill, broil, or use for sushi.

Suggested Recipe: Malaysian Grilled Pomfret (serves 4): Trim and slit 2 cleaned and scaled pomfret. Finely chop 2 shallots, 4 cloves garlic, and 4 seeded small hot red chiles. Mix with 1 cup unsweetened coconut cream, then pour over the fish and marinate for 1 hour. Drain, then grill or broil, about 10 minutes, brushing with the marinade. Serve with lime wedges.

Flavor Affinities: Banana leaf, brown sugar, chiles, coconut, garlic, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, lime, red onion, shallot, shrimp paste, soy sauce, tamarind, turmeric, wild lime.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com