A couple days ago my girlfriend (KK) said friends and family were travelling to a near-by fish market on the coast at Zhuwei and we were invited.
I had nothing better to do so I was all like “aye ah could pure do wi ah fush funger”
The market is a vast array of fish tanks and on this day at around midday was luckily deserted.
One would walk around different vendors picking out various sea creatures to bring upstairs to the restaurant for cooking. Freshness guaranteed!
Some kind of crab creature. Maybe you can identify?
Abalone. A great delicacy, apparently; very blue.
These crabs were in season for roe, another delicacy. We totally bought ten of them.
Dungeoness (?) crabs. These were about 2ft across.
During my trip round the market I suspected health and safety was not high on everyone’s agenda. This smoke machine was knackered.
And this robot crab looked tired and pissed off.
Dried fish. These will be used in things like sambal and condiments. They lend a strong umami flavour to dishes.
After about thirty minutes foraging for amazing sea produce we proceeded to the restaurant upstairs.
First up, fish soup with rice noodles, spring onions and egg.
The stock was amazingly sweet and rich. Keeper!
On our soon-to-be-full revolving table of gastronomic carnage we were served clams in shell with Thai basil. Thai basil seems to be widely used in Taiwanese cooking and it has a wonderful liquorice flavour that suits seafood super well.
These are deep fried oysters with dayglo prawn crackers and Thai basil. When I used to play golf back in the late 80’s there was a trend to colour balls with absurdly impractical shades. Just saying. The oysters were a little fishy tasting, though I suspect this was a result of how they were cooked as opposed to their freshness.
Behold the claw of Grignock! King of the sea! Erm, just a big dead prawn I guess. This was OK.
Sea snails! When you cook sea snails there is a tough membrane at the top of the foot which needs to be removed. This was not the case here so they were a little tough and chewy. Combined with a slightly unpleasant flavour, the wee bams were not for me.
Langoustine with garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion. This was agreeable.
I just asked KK what this was but she wouldn’t tell me. Now she’s off Googling “it’s some male thing” uh oh! “it’s Maw”. Maw turns out to be swim bladder, male swim bladder. It was alright. Tasted like chicken, although KK says more like “chewy brain”.
Un boutique d’un assortment des poison: le squid, la salmon and other stuff. Fcking fresh as all hell get loose. And on the left, some cod roe; salty but not so bad when eaten with the cucumber and onion it was served with.
By this point our rotating table was filling up nicely! I felt sick if I’m brutally honest.
Special delicacy crab-o-clock! They even came all gift wrapped. Just as well as they were £10 each.
Why? This yellow stuff is super rare crab roe and it is very unusual; very little flavour but an incredibly silky texture. I found it so smooth it made my teeth stick together. Maybe Asians love having their teeth stuck together by yellow crab eggs. I have no idea.
Abalone. Overcooked, utterly bland and rubbery.
I haven’t mentioned the two plates of Green Gracilaria in the center of the table above which is “a tropical marine macroalgae with a bush-like growth pattern. The green variety is excellent for algae scrubbers and decor”. It was served with chili, Thai basil and spring onion. The taste was nothing remarkable, maybe like unsalty samphire?
And that was the end of my downright OTT Taiwanese fish market experience. Some really amazing new things with the highlights the crab roe and fish soup. I would certainly recommend going if you’re in the country although I wouldn’t have quite as many courses as we did ‘natch.
But have you been to a fishy banquet? What did you have? Did you eat your own body weight in food? Either way, hook me up on Twitter or in the comments.