Identifying fish in Asian markets

In NorCal we have many excellent Asian markets that offer extraordinary variety of fresh, whole fish. But other than a dozen or so familiar kinds, what are these fish? I pull up this “fish dictionary” when shopping these markets.

FWIW, we have had fabulous results grilling whole fish in the fireplace! Just season with salt and pepper, stuff with herbs if you wish and grill until flesh gives to pressure. Divine and usually very inexpensive.

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Shall we move this to general discussions? This thread can benefit non NorCal folks.

I like to kick the fish in their heads. If they jump, then I will bring them home.

Please do. :grin:

Ugh, I wish I had an easy answer. I know the name of some fish that are staples of my parents’ dinner table in Chinese only, and then there are the fish that I buy from the local fishmonger that I know only in English. It’s hard to reconcile the fish I know in English with their Chinese name counterparts. I’ve just resigned to the fact that for some fish, I will never know the other name.

I am a big fan of cooking fish whole too - usually roasting or broiling in the oven. Simple and usually comes out tasting great.

This is a guide published by WWF Hong Kong on seafood sustainability. There is a description of the popular seafood available there starting from page 32.

same guide, in Chinese, if you want to figure out the chinese names of those fishes:

With that said, the fish available in Asian fish markets here can be quite different from those in Asia, likely because of availability. For example, the yellow croaker or ‘yellow flower fish’ in Chinese, that you can get in the Bay Area, is totally different from the yellow croaker in Hong Kong. So there may be cases where different species are labeled incorrectly.

Thanks! This is fascinating. I am not seeing a lot of fish that I know by Chinese names, so, like you said, there must be other names not captured or some incorrect labels. I do find it funny that lobster we get locally here in the Eastern US is called “Boston Lobster” (and the equivalent in Chinese) whereas most Americans might think of it more as Maine lobster or just lobster. I know my friends and relatives in HK call it Boston lobster, but we assumed that was for our benefit, being we’re from Boston.