Scaleless Aquatic Creatures (水族無鱗單)

Aquatic creatures that lack scales are significantly fishier in smell than their counterpart. Thus, they require much greater attention in their preparation. Their shortcomings can be overcome through the judicious use of ginger and cinnamon. The following is the list of “Aquatic Creatures without scales”.


1The character 魚 (yu2, “fish”) when used in the Chinese can refer to more than fish but to a wide range of non-fish aquatic creatures, many of which are scaleless. Though there are more than a few of these, the most prominent scale-less non-fish “fish” in Chinese cuisine is arguably the soft-shelled turtle, which is also commonly known as “armoured fish” (甲魚) .


9 thoughts on “Scaleless Aquatic Creatures (水族無鱗單)”

  1. Hmm do you agree that a lack of scales means a more pungent fishy smell in aquatic creatures? I never really thought about it until now.

    1. I’m not sure, though I think it has more to do with the “cleanliness” of the fishes’ diet and living conditions. It just happens that most of these scaleless critters tends to live in muck and eat things long dead.

      In fact, scaly fish such as tilapia can taste muddy and somewhat strong because of the water quality in which they are raised. Given good water, they’re good enough for sashimi. #twoCents

      1. True in many ways, since the scent is part of the ingredient’s “nature” and completely removing it would potentially wreck an ingredient. As such, controlling its unpleasant smell and flavours and using it to the dishes advantage is key. For example, the odour of lamb and mutton should not be covered, but tuned and manipulated to make it less pungent. In Chinese cooking this done with green onions and cumin. In Western cuisines, rosemary and thyme are used.

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