Posted by on Aug 4, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 3 comments

That’s right. It’s not cereal that’ll be joining the milk this morning, in fact there isn’t any milk at all! Instead, let me introduce you to the chanos…or what’s widely known as the milkfish. A delicious fish that lives in tropical and subtropical ocean regions, the milkfish is a staple of Taiwan ‘s aquaculture industry.When cooked, the fish’s eye becomes cloudy and turns a milky white – thus its name.

So, now that I’m done boring you half to death, how about getting to the actual food? Ah, I see that got your attention (and if it didn’t then it did in my own personal world so shush).

Down a small side street in Kaohsiung, this humble little restaurant doesn’t even have a banner at the front. Instead, it relies solely on its own longstanding reputation and that’s what keeps the regulars (and newcomers) coming for more.

After admiring all the cooking being done up front – and learning that rice cookers are apparently great for cooking milkfish inĀ  broths for long periods of time – we settled down in the back of the little store…right in front of the air conditioner. Ahh~ Bliss.

Actually I take it back. Feeling nice and cool isn’t nearly as blissful as it would be after eating. A problem quickly solved when our orders were delivered to the table after a mere few minutes.

Milkfish is served in a number of ways. In a broth, as a soup, over rice, baked, fried, what have you. It just so happens that we chose the soup, the rice, and broiled please! along with a side dish of its very own innards cooked up to a squiggly charred perfection. Yum.

So first, the fish broiled in meat sauce. With thin strips of ginger on both the fish and the soy sauce as garnish, the fish itself had managed to soak up every drop of flavor that the sauce provided. Soft and tender, ‘juicy’ couldn’t give it justice. Personally, I think that the soy sauce on the side wasn’t even needed.

On to the intimidating looking plate of black stuff…it was like an explosion of flavor in my mouth. A rather concentrated taste of liver was the most prominent flavor. If anything, you don’t even realize that it’s not just fish liver that you’re eating but its intestines as well. For the carb fans, this would be great over rice.

Unlike the previous two dishes, the milkfish in soup was very lightly flavored and you’re able to truly sample the taste of the fish itself. Note that while you may see a few fins here and there, they only use the stomach portion of the fish (no head and tail) so that you’re able to enjoy the meatiest part of the fish. Pretty considerate of them eh? It also means less bones to pick out while eating.

The fish itself was actually pretty fatty but it isn’t the kind where you take a bite and gag from the oily blob (such as eating a piece of fatty meat – steak anyone?), instead it’s very light and flavorful and I imagine that that is why people pop little fish oil pills on a daily basis. As in, good fats not bad fats. In fact, I’m guessing it might be due to all that fat that the fish itself is so soft and tender.

Oh and how was the fish over rice? I didn’t try it personally but from the way the others scarfed it down…I’m guessing pretty good if not acceptable.

~ AJ ~

Photographs taken and provided by Jasmine Hwang

3 Comments

  1. Aug-4-2010

    Milkfish, wheatfish, monkfish, allofthefish. They are all fine with me. I’ve been eating sushi and sashimi for breakfast for years. My favorite is actually a rainbow roll covered with Uni and some spicy Kimchee sauce on the side. Oh let’s not forget only after it’s been dunked in 3 parts wasabi and just 1 part light soy sauce. Now that’s a breakfast!

    I’ve never been to the orient, but I love the delicacies from every corner of that amazing side of the world.

    Enjoy

    Alex

  2. Aug-4-2010

    If we ever hang out again when you get back from Taiwan, I’m sure you’ll make me try every piece of food you’ll blog about. lol =D

  3. Aug-7-2010

    Alex,

    Fish has always been a favorite in my family. We usually always have some sort of fish dish during family gatherings. If not, then some variety of seafood always tends to show up.

    I’ve never really thought of sushi and sashimi as breakfast foods but I know that my sister and I start drooling and craving once the words are mentioned. Though I’m not the biggest fan of spicy foods, wasabi is my exception. I like the way you dunk! =]

    If you ever get the chance, you should definitely come visit sometime. You’ll realize that the things you’ve had before probably just don’t compare! (Sometimes I’ll say something’s delicious while in NY, then I come back to Taiwan and realize I must’ve been delusional.)

    Kenny,

    I shall add you onto my list of food “guinea pigs”. x3

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