Updated: Mar 25
[March 2020, Know Your Fish - Issue 1]
Pomfret is a species of butterfish that 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.
The three types of Pomfret we see at the wet market are:
1) Chinese Silver Pomfret (Dao Chior)
2) Silver/White Pomfret (Peh Chior)
3) Black Pomfret
Despite the Chinese Silver Pomfret being the most popular amongst the three as it is said to have more flavourful meat, my personal favourite is the Silver/White Pomfret! It is smaller in size and has firmer meat which can be used in cooking porridge.
In the market, we also often come across a fish dubbed as the "Golden Pomfret". However, it is not to be confused with a pomfret as it is actually a pompanos whose taste, texture and even looks are similar to that of a pomfret. Pompanos can be differentiated from a pomfret by a distinct golden colour on its fins and tail.
Left to Right: Chinese Silver Pomfret, Silver/White Pomfret, Black Pomfret
Habitat The best-flavoured fish come from the Indian (the pomfrets we source are caught here!) and Pacific Oceans.
Buying Pomfrets are available most of the year but the best season to get them is between October and March.
Cooking Whole pomfret can be grilled (broiled), fried, baked, poached or even steamed. However, the most common Chinese cooking method is to fry or steam. A 400g pomfret can feed 1 person. Looking to share? Get a bigger-sized one or more small pieces!
Is Pomfret the 'Right' Fish for You?
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
Alright, here's what you've been waiting for. Before you overload on information, let me share with you a simple yet classic way for you to cook your pomfret!
Teochew Style Steamed Pomfret
Traditionally, the Chinese Silver Pomfret is used for this recipe. However, other types of pomfrets can be used too! The ingredient list below is for a pomfret weighing approximately 500g. Feel free to modify the recipe to your liking :)
Left to right: Preparation, Steaming, Final Product
Featuring: Chinese Silver Pomfret
Approximately 500g Pomfret (Let us know if you want the fish cleaned and/or cut!)
3 Cloves of Garlic (Minced finely)
20g Ginger (Sliced thinly or shredded)
1 Stalk of Spring Onion (Sliced finely into strips)
2 Tomatoes (Cubed)
3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (Soaked and quartered)
1 Sour Plum
2 Tsp of Sour Plum Juice
1 Tsp of Fish Sauce
1 Tsp of Shao Xing Wine
2 Tsp of Salt
2 Tbs of Cooking Oil (To fry garlic and ginger)
Half a bowl of Water (For steaming)
Preparing Your Pomfret
Rub fish thoroughly with salt and gently clean off any slime and dirt. Ensure that insides are cleaned with salt as well.
Shallow fry garlic and ginger separately and set aside. Keep the frying oil.
(Garlic and ginger burn easily so remove from heat when it turns light brown)
Make vertical OR horizontal cut(s) on each side of the fish and proceed to stuff fried ginger floss within the cut(s) and in the cavity.
Arrange tomatoes and mushrooms at the bottom of a deep dished plate and place the fish on top of the ingredients.
Pour fish sauce and shao xing wine over the fish. Then, mash up the plum and spread evenly on the fish before drizzling on the plum juice. Add the fried garlic along with the frying oil. Garnish with spring onions and add a dash of white pepper.
Ensure the water is at a rolling boil before putting the fish in to steam.
Steam for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Check if the fish is ready by cutting into it. If the meat inside is white and tender, remove from heat.
Now, serve and enjoy!
[Recipe shared by a fellow friend, Lew Jun Shao]
Tried out this recipe or already have a version that is to die for?
Share with me in the comments below or tag us on Instagram @thefishmonger.sg
the fish & shellfish kitchen handbook, 2014, Kate Whiteman.
鲜美营养鱼类海鲜, 2014, 甘智荣.