Thursday, July 06, 2006

a live fish no more

I really shouldn't be blogging. I should be doing productive things like laundry or preparing for my upcoming phone interview. However, I haven't been giving my blog the love and affection that it deserves in recent weeks. I have had friends in town for the past two weeks experiencing all kinds of wonderful culinary delights and yet my poor little blog has heard very little about these adventures. Well, blog, today is your day. Today, I tell you about the wonders of buying a live Tilapia fish at Ranch 99 and the Mango Cake from the bakery next door.

I'd never been to Ranch 99 until last Saturday. I'd heard many curious things about Ranch 99 like when one of the writers on the KQED food blog cooked up the 10 scariest things she could find at Ranch 99. I've also heard it's full of wonderful Asian delicacies. In any event, I was excited to finally visit this ginormous Asian market.

R, W, and I had decided we were going to cook a big Asian dinner that night and then go see The Devil Wears Prada. We walked in and R and W had already decided what they were going to make. I was still unsure about my contribution, so I perused hoping to find some inspiration. I walked over to the meat case and saw this package:

My mind was not able to immediately register what I was seeing. I then realized it was chicken feet. Hmmm. R loves chicken feet at dim sum and Mr. Cupcake has tried it in the past, but I just wasn't feeling it.

We continued to walk. R needed hoisin sauce and very dark soy sauce so we made our way to the sauce aisle.

That's a whole lotta sauce. R found his ingredients and then they decided I should make a steamed fish. I was a little scared and replied, "But I don't know how to make steamed fish."

W nonchalantly responded and said, "It's easy, just use some soy sauce, ginger, and green onions and it'll be fine."

"Okay, if you help me." I conceded and she agreed.

Our next task was to find a fish. Do we buy a prepacked fish? I'm a bit sketched out by prepackaged fish because it's not always fresh. Then W decided to call her mom and ask her about buying a live fish at Ranch 99. While W was on the phone, R and I took a look at the other seafood offerings.

Some kind of squid

More squid

R especially enjoyed playing with the live blue crabs.

W got off the phone with her mom and she informed us that they'd kill, clean, and scale the fish for us. The decision was made, and a Tilapia fish would soon meet its tragic demise so it could be apart of our Asian themed dinner.

The fish monger picking our fish from the tank.

He happily posed with the flopping fish while R rapidly took shots with my camera. At this point I quit watching because I knew what was coming next. I heard a loud thud which was apparently the big mallet coming into contact with the fish. You can see it under the net on the counter.

He then moved it to another counter where he pulled all the guts out and scaled the fish.

Finally, he wrapped it up and handed it over to W in a bag. The fish was dead. Or so we thought. We continued to walk with fish in the cart and suddenly the fish started flopping around in its bag. We shriek and someone said, "I thought it was dead!"

"It has to be, they pulled out its guts!"

"But it moved!"

"I don't know!"

The bag continued to wiggle in our cart and we paid, and left. We were a bit freaked out, but there wasn't much we could do at this point except hope that it'd stop. And eventually it did. It wasn't moving by the time it made it onto the serving platter.

Here's the full spread of our dinner that night including the steamed fish, Chinese sausage with green onions and a rice noodle stir fry with beef:

And the Mango Mousse cake we bought from the Sheng Kee Bakery next to Ranch 99.

The cake was good. Not too sweet and the cake itself was very light. The mango mousse was fluffly. I like Chinese bakeries mostly because the sweets themselves aren't overly sweet.

All in all, I'd deem the dinner to be a success. I'm not sure if I'll ever buy another live fish again. The experience was a little too weird for me.

Oh and the Devil Wears Prada was cute. Definitely a chick flick, but cute nonetheless.


Jaye said...

Hey, check out them thick fish lips!
That looks really good though. Does fish steaming take a long time? And does it leave a lingering fishy smell in the kitchen?

madame cupcake said...

We steamed the fish according to W's mom's directions. We put it in a steam basket for 10-12 minutes. This fish was 2.5 pounds so that wasn't quite enough. Because we had already cut into the fish, we wrapped it in saran wrap and microwaved it for a bit.

Now that I think about it, the fish leave a fishy smell at all. One of the reasons I hate cooking fish at home is the strong fishy oder, but I guess the steaming and the fact that it was alive 2 hours earlier made it as fresh as it could be.

Anonymous said...

ur mean