The spawning Rabbits arrive late this year

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Rabbits are here

Once a year, some in the Chinese community here will be craving for Rabbit fish.

Some call it the "Chinese New Year Fish" or "Pai-Lin Yue."

For a few days in a year - and only for a few days - the ones caught and sold in local markets are full of creamy roe and wilt, with little of the usual fishy taste inside the stomach. This is the period when they get ready to spawn. I suppose its' rich tummy is a sign of prosperity. For most, it is just tradition and taste.

It is a special Chinese New Year delicacy. During that period, they come with a premium price, fetching up to $100 per kilo. Crazy.

This year, they missed the boat and arrived way too late, being perhaps the leap year.

You can get it cheap and full of roe for S$15-18 per kilo.

In fact, for Christians, we have just started Lent. If you like, this can be your "Lenten fish."

Steam it for about 3-4 minutes. You will know that is is cooked when the eyes turn white. Eat it with some good soy sauce and whatever sauces you fancy (i.e tau cheong. Zhejiang Vinegar, Miso).

Don't overcook it so that the roe is not hard but creamy.

Pick up the flesh and a bit of the roe. Dip it into the soy sauce and enjoy. Also great eaten with porridge or rice.

It will not "wow" you the way Shanghai hairy crab will (though some do equate the experience), but it is very enjoyable and different.

May not be the best fish or roe in town, but hey, they come this way all ladened with goodies only for a short period yearly. And this year, you will enjoy it even more when you know you did not pay top dollar for it. 

Pick up roe and flesh, dip and enjoy.
If you like this roe-laden fish, you can only get them from the wet markets within these few days.

It may have arrived too late. If you crave for this, I hope you won't.  

And wishing you a prosperous Chinese New Year healthy Lenten Season!

You Might Also Like


  1. Being a Teochew nang, I never could understand why this is called "Rabbit Fish". The only clue is how it is called in Teochew "Pek Touh Herr", translated meaning, "White Stomach(Abdomen)Fish" which sounds similar to "Pek Thoh" meaning "Rabbit" in Teochew, and the probably error in translation.

  2. Hi

    I prefer the ones with bao (the roe is white and soft). Last year was quite expensive! This year is cheap but not all the fishes were fresh.
    Just ate it today again. =)

  3. The white "roe" probably comes from male ones and some prefer that.

    And ya Alex, I have no clue why they are called 'rabbit fish' and likely a local invention.

    What do you normally eat it with? Prefer steamed or boiled?

  4. it's not that late as my Mongolian friend told me they are celebrating their new year right now... maybe we've been celebrating too early!

  5. its great to see a blog with recipes on local favourites. can' wait to try them out

  6. How come i find the stomach abit bitter. What do u put so that it is tasty n not bitter. How do u clean the fish?

  7. How come i find the stomach abit bitter. What do u put so that it is tasty n not bitter. How do u clean the fish?