Scientific Name: Nemipterus virgatus
Common Names: Golden-Thread, Golden Threadfin Bream, Hung Sam
Date: 7th Aug 2012
Where: Fusion in Discovery Bay
Weight: 0.294 catty (178 g)
Cost: $22.90 (78$ per catty)
Recipe: Steamed with some herbs
WWF Sustainable Seafood Guide: Think Twice
Named Golden-Thread – I presume – because of the golden thread-like line down its sides. This is a smaller fish and according to WWF not so sensitive to fishing pressure because they are fast growing and reach maturity at 15 months, but still overfished. Quite honestly I do not know why, because I am certainly not going to bother with this fish again, but more on that later. Although fishing of Golden-Thread is by small-hooked long lines which does not produce a lot of by-catch the management measure in place in Hong Kong are apparently weak. So the stocks have been declining in the South China Sea, with catches being mostly young fish.
Herklots & Lin – my 1962 guide to this project – actually just give the genus Nemipterus sp. for this fish in their book, so I figured N. virgatus is as good as any Nemipterus, right? You probably don’t care either….anyway…
Wikipedia tells me that it occurs “in the Western Pacific, from Southern Japan to Northwest Australia and the Arafura Sea. It is one of the most popular commercial and food fish in the East China Sea and northern South China Sea.” Once again I have no idea why its popular. Maybe because it can be made into fish balls?
It has a maximum length of 35 cm….mone were about 15 cm (I had to buy 2, as one couldn’t have fed a mouse), which is roughly the length at first maturity, too. So it seems WWF are right: basically this fish is being caught as soon as it hits maturity, probably even a bit before, which is very bad for conserving the fish stock. If you eat them before they reproduce, guess what? There won’t be any left soon.
Its non-migratory and spends its time between 18-33 m depth but can go down to 220m. Its a demersal fish (lives new the seabed) and inhabits muddy or sandy bottoms and feeds on crustaceans, fish and cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish and octopus).
So much for the science…here is the culinary part: what a rubbish fish! Take my advice, if you don’t want to spend 1 hour picking through the tiny bones and bits of what is size-wise a large goldfish, don’t bother with this fish. Fish balls are the only way to make this palatable: puree the sucker(s) in a blender to chop the bones into pulp and you have something resembling a meal…but thats not my idea of eating a fish…
I give it a score of 1/10. And that one point is just because the actual taste of the flesh which was just average. Everything else about it was a pain in the neck (literally…I smaller one bone that scratched all the way down my throat for about 5 minutes).
I never even asked the wife….she just said it’s too small and makes the whole house stink of fish….which is true this is one of the fishiest fish I have ever tried! Here is a picture of the worlds most pathetic fish meal.