This is the kim chio

Kim chio

…and though it sounds a bit like banana in Hokkien, it is literally translated to mean golden pomfret. I do not know why it is not as popular as its white counterpart, the pek chio, considering that gold is auspicious to the Chinese. Personally, I am not really a fan of the pek chio – for one thing, it is extremely expensive and though the flesh is finer and smoother, I find it somewhat mild or bland. I prefer the cheaper black pomfret or the or chio for its stronger taste.

I was never crazy about the kim chio either but one Friday, I went to the shop near my house and it was all they had so I bought one. It turned out really nice so I went back and bought some more to stock up for the coming Chinese New Year. Word has it that as the season draws near, all the sellers will hoard all the “good” fish so as to sell them at exorbitant jacked-up prices especially on the eve of the festival.

The problem with buying fish from that shop is that they do not gut or clean the fish for you so you will have to do it yourself. If you buy fish from the fishmonger these days, you can ask them to do it. I saw a video clip on youtube where they asked some young girls to do that and good grief!!! All of them could not do it and they struggled through the whole process like it was something utterly disgusting. There is one part in this Chinese New Year commercial too where the wife instructed the hubby to do that (0:55) and I found it rather amusing – it sure brought a smile to my face as I watched that.

Well, if you are wondering, yes, I can do it myself. First, you have to scrape the fish holding the knife vertically and even though pomfrets do not seem to have any visible scales, you will be able to see it more clearly…


…when you do that.

You may just leave the fins by the side if you wish but I will always cut them off…

Side fins

To remove the insides of the fish, pierce through this hole underneath…


…with a knife or kitchen scissors and cut a slit…


…so you can pull out everything. Some people will cut a slit close to the side on one side of the fish but I am not all that fond of that. I feel this looks much nicer.

Rinse clean but usually I will save the water to pour over the plants in my garden and I will bury everything underground – that will also help make it more fertile. Even if you get the fishmonger to clean the fish for you, you still have to rinse it well to make sure it is really clean and everything has been removed. For some fish, I would also cut and remove the black stuff (they say it is the blood) along the bones inside.

You can remove the gills…


…by pulling them out through the flaps by the side of the head.

Finally, you cut slits…


…on both sides of the fish and it is ready for garnishing.

Chinese cooking is very simple but I guess I would go a step further when I cook. I added finely chopped garlic – they say that will remove the fishy smell – very thinly sliced ginger, chilies and the stalks of my daun sup (Chinese celery) and I will place the leaves on top…


…and lastly, you may add a dash of oyster sauce (my missus does that) but I prefer a bit of fish sauce, diluted a bit as it can be rather salty. It is now ready for steaming.

Steam it for around 15-20 minutes and it is done! If you are cooking for guests, the leaves will not look nice after steaming so do remove them and place fresh leaves to make it look a lot more presentable. I think for the Teochew version, they also add thin strips of salted vegetable and tofu.