All You Need To Know 🐟
Here at TheFishmonger, we take pride in helping you choose the best fish for your needs :)
- Not sure about the preferred cooking method?
- Want to know if a particular fish is suitable for you?
- Keen to know more about the flavour profile and origin of your yummy fish?
We've got you covered!
Pomfrets and Pompanos
These small silvery fish look rather like coins. Their almost circular bodies have very pointed dorsal and anal fins and curved forked tails, not unlike those of flat fish. Scales are almost absent and the white flesh is fairly soft, with a mild flavour.
Habitat A variety of pomfret is found in the Mediterranean, but the best-flavoured fish come from the Indian (where most of our fish comes from!) and Pacific Oceans.
Buying Pomfret are available most of the year. Fillets are rather thin in smaller-sized pomfret so if you are looking to cook for two or more, get a bigger pomfret!
Cooking Whole pomfret can be grilled (broiled), fried, baked, poached or even steamed. However, the most common Chinese cooking methods would be to fry or steam. Pomfret goes well with spices and Asian flavours such as coconut, lemon grass and tamarind. You would be surprised to know pomfret makes for excellent curry too! Because the fillets are thin and the flesh is soft, pomfret fillets should be cooked only briefly.
Pomfret is suitable for people who have:
Diseases related to the digestive system
Diseases of the urinary system
Weak constitution (slender build)
Diseases of the endocrine system (Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoporosis etc)
Pomfret is not suitable for people who have:
Damp heat constitution
Snubnose Pompano, Snubnose Dart, "Golden Pomfet"
Mandarin: 金鲳 (Jīn chāng)
Malay: Bawalmas, Nyior-nyior
Teochew/Hokkien: Kim Cheoh, Boong Cheoh
Golden pomfrets are not prized as highly as the other pomfrets as the flesh is firmer and not as delicate as the Chinese Pomfret.
However, the firmer flesh means it is suitable for cooking porridge! Large sized pompanos are popular in porridge as its flesh can be filleted and adds a touch of sweetness to your cooking. For smaller sized ones (as shown in the above picture), you can coat the fish with salt and tumeric powder and shallow fry in a wok.
Silver Pomfret, White Pomfret
Mandarin: 白鲳 (Bái chāng), 银鲳 (Yín chāng)
Malay: Ikan Bawal Putih
Teochew/Hokkien: Pek Cheoh
Pomfrets from the 泗水(Surabaya) region are considered very good eating fish.
This variety of fish is usually wild caught and have a higher value.
In Singapore, the Chinese Silver Pomfret (pictured right) is preferred over the White Pomfret (pictured left).
Chinese Silver Pomfrets are known to be a bit more flavourful and the fish is usually larger in size hence, typically used in banquets.
The way to pick a good pomfret, aside from the usual firmness of the fish and colour of the gills is to give the gill covers behind the eye a little squeeze. With the good ones, you will get a bit of pastel orange fluid coming out behind the gill covers. With the better quality pomfrets, you should still see much of the scales intact. These are usually caught in cages and are less traumatised. The ones without scales are probably caught using drift nets and are considered less ideal.
Pomfrets are best cooked via steaming. Check out our pre-packed condiments bundle here!
Spanish Mackeral, Spotted King Mackeral and Korean Seerfish
Spanish Mackeral, Narrow-Barred Mackeral
Teochew/Hokkien: Batang, , Mandarin 马鲛鱼 (ma jiao yu)
Mal Tengiri Batang
The Spanish Mackeral, locally known as batang, is a popular food fish in Singapore. They belong to the family Scombridae which are a pelagic species whose members include tuna. They have no scales and underneath their silvery skin is a muscular flesh which is rich in blood vessels as they are strong swimmers and would often speed across the open waters of the oceans and seas.
The flesh is meaty and firm, almost like the texture of chicken breast meat when it is fried. It is commonly used for fish soups and otah.
The Batang is easy to identify. It is usually the largest of the three closely related species of mackerals that are found in our local markets and it is the only one with vertical bars on the body. Always look out for batang whose cross section is more narrow and sleek as they will taste better than those rounder ones. Another thing to look out for is for fish that have been line caught rather than netted. Fish that have been caught in nets usually have some bruises to the skin and are more traumatised than line caught fish and will not taste as good.
Spotted Spanish Mackeral, Indo-Pacific King Mackeral
Teochew/Hokkien: Beh Kah, Mandarin 马鲛鱼 (ma jiao yu), 斑点马鲛 (ban dian ma jiao)
Mal: Ikan Tenggiri Papan, Tenggiri Bunga
The Spotted Spanish Mackeral is a smaller fish compared to the batang. It is usually about 30-50cm in size. Like the batang, the best ones are fished locally from small boats. The best ones come from Pengarang, which is quite close to Singapore.
This is a very good fish to use for fish balls as well as otah. Of course, if the fish is super fresh, you should just slice it and use it for fish soup!
Teochew/Hokkien: Dua Pan, Man: 马鲛鱼 (ma jiao yu)
Mal: Ikan Tenggiri Korea
Of the three, the Korean Seerfish is the least commonly available and the most preferred.
The flesh is a little sweeter and more delicate than the batang and fish soup stalls that say they serve dua pan instead of batang are the ones you should pay more attention to. They are typically larger than the beh kah but smaller than batang. Because of their spots, they can sometimes be mistaken for a large beh kah. They are usually broader (ie the length between dorsal ie top and ventral fins) and their is a more distinct hump above the eyes which make them look a bit “fiercer” than the beh kah. The best dua pan comes from Tanjung Balai in Indonesia.
From top: Batang, Dua Pan, Beh Kah
This photo shows the typical sizes of all three species found at our wet market.
The largest is usually batang, followed by dua pan then beh kah.
Local Fish Files; Archives, 2016, Dr Leslie Tay
鲜营养鱼类海鲜, 2014, 甘智荣
Thank you for reading! We hope the information above has helped you gain a better understanding of the fishes you are eating!
We will continue uploading more fishy facts & tips so stay tuned :)