Thursday, February 10, 2011

the pie chia/pek tor fish



in my growing up years i do not remember we having yusheng for our chinese new year celebrations but we did have another fish dish - the pek tor fish or pie chia fish. the pek tor is especially popular with the teochew during the chinese new year season. however, since all chinese share the view that whole steamed fish is the symbol of long life and good fortune, it is not surprising that other dialect groups also take to the fish.

the pek tor (white belly) fish is available all the year round but during the chinese new year season, it is special. that is when the fish start to spawn. the females are laden with roe and the males are laden with milt. at other times of the year, the fish is treated as an ordinary fish but comes chinese new year, the price of the fish skyrockets to as high as $80 a kilo. according to one friend, the best place to buy this fish is at jurong fishery port at 3.00 a.m. in the morning.

actually for me, one who does not eat the roe or the milt, it is a waste eating the fish at this time when the demand for it is so great and the price is so ridiculously high. another friend told me that i could get the frozen variety from ntuc supermarket at $4.90 for half a dozen pek tor.

according to some of my teochew friends, the chilli, garlic and salted soya beans are what make the dipping sauce special. i found out that there are as many ways for preparing the fish as there are types of sauce.

apart from steaming, you can also blanch the fish in boiling water. another way is to stir fry it with chinese leeks.

11 comments:

Dogcom said...

Hi yg, I am a Teochew so I've experienced how the the older generations have such a strong attraction to Pek Tor. Actually the fish taste just like most steamed fish. Yes a good garlic chilli (not forgetting the vinegar) sauce is crucial. It is intriguing how nature works; in this case the Pek Tor will carry the roe or milt just in time on the first day of Lunar New Year.

yg said...

frankie, cooked in boiling water, the flesh is quite smooth.

Andy Young* said...

Hi yg,
It's been some time since I checked out your blog. It's full of detailed information that I find interesting and commendable.

Now I know more about the Pek Tor Fish.

Thank you.

PChew said...

The Pek Tor fish is "si si" must eat by the Teochew each lunar new year. My wife not a Teochew but she likes to eat the fish too. Not me because the fish has many small bones.

yg said...

andy, thanks for dropping by again.

yg said...

philip, the ones i ate didn't have any small bones. many of those whom i asked about eating the fish told me that they ate the fish every lunar new year and quite a number of them are not teochews.

Anonymous said...

we are living in melb aust. and my family were trying to find the name of this chinese new year fish.Finally I found in this blog " Pek Tor fish "
In singapore 20 years ago we must have this fish and hopefully i can find some at the market in aust. It has to be on chinese new year day or less no roe and black bitter.

yg said...

hi anonymous,
i thought i have seen this fish being sold at the springvale market. however, when i checked with those who have been here longer, they seem to think that this fish is not available in melbourne.

Anonymous said...

Thank YG,
2 years ago i managed to purchase at footscray market but as it is about a year after chinese the flesh (no roe - its black) are bitter.will be looking for the fish on 22 jan 2012 + 3 days.
Happy and properouse 2012.

Anonymous said...

correction its not a year , it is about 1 week after chinese new year. sorry for the mistake

yg said...

hi anonymous,

hope you will be luckier this year and be able to get your pek tor fish. i guess you must be a teochew or a hokkien. i was told that the other dialect groups do not consider this a traditional dish. i am hokkien and my mother would have this fish on my dining table during the chinese new year.
gong xi fa cai!