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A Chinese Culinary Favourite: Ribbon Fish

Updated: May 27, 2022

The ribbon fish has a striking appearance -- a slender, metallic silver, ribbon-like body ending in a thin whip-like tail; with large eyes and a mouth full of fang-like teeth. Popular with the Chinese, this fish is usually sectioned, deep-fried and shallow sauteed or braised.

A member of the cutlassfish family, ribbon fish is known by quite a handful of other names -- belt fish; hairtail fish; knife fish; galchi (갈치) in Korea; tachiuo ("太刀 (tachi)": sword, "魚 (uo)":fish) in Japan; and the Chinese calls it daiyu (带鱼). The flesh is delicate, white and flaky, and has a slight sweetness.

The ribbon fish is named thus according to their slim, ribbon-like appearance.

Found in the tropical and temperate waters around the major oceans, the carnivorous ribbon fish preys on small fish, squids and krill. It is mainly distributed in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, and it is found in the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, the Bohai Sea, and the South China Sea. This fish is rarely harvested on large scale, since they reside in deep waters. They can grow to a maximum length of 2.5m and approximately 5kg in weight. Most caught for the wet market is much smaller and shorter; under 1 metre in length.

This fish is nutritious, and believed to boost cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation with a host of other benefits. Ribbon fish contains Omega-3, DHA and EPA oils that can improve blood circulation, and help prevent the formation of thrombosis. Omega-3 is beneficial for vision, in the prevention of macular degeneration of the eye. DHA helps in improving the cognitive performance and concentration in children. In older folks, Omega helps in prevention of dementia and memory problems. As ribbon fish contains a good level of protein, essential in producing collagen, this helps to keep the skin supple and healthy. In addition, it is said that the fish has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the pain from arthritis. Overall, I'm impressed with what I have read from the sources about the ribbon fish. The down side seems to be the high levels of sodium and calories, so they should be eaten in moderation.

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