Monday, January 26, 2009

Eating Fish Head

As a Cantonese family, we are used to eating whole fish. When my Caucasian Sister-in-law Karen came to our family, she told me that she ate only fillet fish or fish in "fish and chips."

Dad often told us that the rich people say fish heads. The meat is tender and tastier. True, it is messy and difficult to eat, but then, the rich people have the whole day to eat their dinner. I was amazed to watch on Australia TV that the presenter mentioned something like When Chairman Mao Tse Tung took over China and wanted to purge the rich people, he sent his men to eating places. If a person ate the fish head, he would be arrested because that meant that he was a rich man. My Dad died in 2006, I can't get anyone to verify this story. I surfed the net, and didn't find anything either.

When I went to Singapore, I was pleasantly surprised that fish heads are considered high up in the "Must Eat" list. They have curry fish head, and fish MAI FERN, a kind of rice vermicilli. My aunt was surprised that I never had this dish, and she came with all the ingredients and cooked thieir famous dish. I don't say I particularly liked it very much. Another time, my girl friend S.L. took me to a "famous" place to eat.

Now in Auckland, I often buy salmon fish heads to cook in a Tom Yum Gravy. Salmon is expensive, I buy just enough fillet to pan fry or to make sushi. Then I cook two or three heads. I will post the pix next time I cook them. Of course, salmon heads here are cheap, and we are poor people masquerading to be rich people.

Here I share with you a custom that is practised only by my people, the Kwong Liang people. When a child is one hundred days old, we call it GOU BAKL LO. The family would get the local barber to shave the baby BODAK or completely bald. The baby will be fed the choiciest part of the fish. This is done because the elders believe that when the child grows up, he will not have premature greying. As for eating fish, the child will know how to eat fish without choking. As usual, my scientifically minded water engineer pooh poohs these ideas. But I have the last laugh. I don't need any chemical enhencement for my black hair, and I don't choke on fish bone, unlike one certain person.

***This fish was eaten during the reunion dinner hosted by R & M. It was an Orangy Roughy. The dinner guests were too polite to dig into the head. I should have told the story.***

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