Fish: Introduction (水族有鱗單:開篇)

All fish require removal of their scales during preparation with only shad as the exception. Being scaled creatures, I consider fish as a class on its own. The following is the chapter on ‘Aquatic Creatures with Scales’.”

水族有鱗單
魚皆去鱗,惟鰣魚不去。我道有鱗而魚形始全。作《水族有鱗單》。

A start of a new chapter, on fish this time! After spending more than a year for translations on birds and poultry, this is much welcomed change.

As noted in the translation, the title of this chapter in Chinese is actually “scaled aquatic creatures” (水族有鱗). But since it’s such a mouthful of words, I’ve decided to translate the title as simply, “fish”. Considering that most scaled aquatic creatures are fish, and most fish have scales, I think this is accurate enough.

As for this chapter introductory text, the most curious thing it mentions is that one does not remove the scales of shad when preparing it. Though it feels a bit odd, unbeknownst to me, there is a long tradition on Chinese cooking to not remove scales from shad. In fact, the Song Dynasty  (96o-1279) manual Pujiang Madame Wu’s Records on Household Culinary Matters (浦江吳氏中饋錄) indicated that for preparing shad for steaming, one removes its innards but not its scales (鰣魚去腸不去鱗). As for why this is done, it’s unclear to me.

In any case, on wards we go!

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3 thoughts on “Fish: Introduction (水族有鱗單:開篇)”

    1. I was hoping that would be the case, but after going through it all, I still don’t have anything… Maybe the scales are eaten because they are so thin and ten that consumed whole? It’ anyone’s guess 🙂

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