Seafoods 7: Cuttlefish roe (烏魚蛋)

海鮮單::烏魚蛋
烏魚蛋最鮮,最難服事。須河水滾透,撤沙去臊,再加雞湯、蘑菇煨爛。龔雲若司馬家制之最精。

Illustration of matured and deposited cuttlefish egg sacs. The edible cuttlefish roe is a milky white egg bearing organ directly removed from the animal. Google for better images. (Credit: Adolphe Millot, 1857-1921)

List of Seafoods::Cuttlefish roe
Cuttlefish roe [1] is very tasty but also rather difficult to prepare. One needs to throughly boil it using river water to remove any sand and rid it of its stench. After that it must be simmered with chicken broth and mushrooms until tender. Marshall[2] Gong Yunruo’s household prepares this dish very well.

Random notes:
[1]: At first I thought the roe being referred to in this section was Mullet roe (烏魚子). In Yuan Mei’s time, the cuttlefish may have been known as “wuyu” (烏魚, lit. dark-fish) but it is now more commonly known as “moyu” (墨魚, lit. ink-fish). Thank goodness for Google search in helping me catch this error. That being said Taiwanese cured mullet roe (wuyuzi, 烏魚子), known in English by its Japanese name “Karasumi“, is absolutely incredible. Om nom nom nom.

[2]: Sima (司馬) is an ancient military position in charge of marshalling horses for war with the characters meaning “in-charge of horses”. It’s interesting that the English military/law-enforment positions Marshal (Frankish mare (“horse”) + skalkoz (“servant”)) and Constable (Latin comes (“count”) + stabuli (“stable”)) also have similar roots. As well, like Marshal, Sima is also used as a surname.

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