Notable Nosh: Silverfish Peanuts

Silverfish Peanuts1

I have quite a number of Chinese cookery books printed in China that contain recipes for a small plate preparation consisting of peanuts fried with a type of tiny white fish. I actually have all the necessary ingredients to prepare this for you sometime but, just recently, I was fortunate to come across a commercially packaged snack that I just had to try… 

Most of the recipes I have for this dish are quite simple and don’t include a great deal more than the basic peanuts and fish. This product, however, describes itself, on the front of the package, as a 麻辣 (málà) preparation, meaning that is ‘numbing hot’ in the spicy sense.

Silverfish Peanuts2

The ingredient list, in addition to ‘whitefish’ and peanuts, mentions chili (hence the ‘hot’ component) and ‘spices’. The Chinese listing, however, also lists ‘spices’ but particularly specifies 花椒, or Sichuan Peppercorns, which provides the numbing quality.

The word ‘Whitebait’ used to describe the fish component is probably not that accurate as the term generally refers to certain immature spry that, albeit small, are usually an inch or two long. The ones in this product, however, are really small and, as you can probably see in the package picture, are so tiny as to be almost transparent. The front of the bag actually translates the Chinese ingredient listing (銀魚) as ‘silverfish’ which, although correct, is somewhat unfortunate as, in English, this usually refers to a small type of insect.

Silverfish Peanuts3

In close-up, you can see the whole dried chilies along with the fish (the small thin brown things) and the Sichuan peppercorns as well. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more fish as, although there is a faint umami quality to the snack, the taste of these is not readily apparent. The heat is not tremendous really but the peppercorns definitely add a moth-numbing tingle and there is also a slight aromatic quality to the overall effect that makes me think that Galanga may be one of the included spices. My wife really enjoyed the snack but, on the whole, I would probably prefer less spiciness and more fish flavor. Obviously, I am going to have to actually get around to making this for myself…

 

4 thoughts on “Notable Nosh: Silverfish Peanuts”

  1. Oh my gosh! John! Yum!!! I just cooked silver fish for the first time on Friday. They are quite delicate in flavor, aren’t they. I made a cucumber, radish, pickled ginger sunomono and added the silver fish. Also added finely sliced green onion and cilantro, but just a very tiny bit. Sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on top and voila. I absolutely love the delicate texture and flavor. Kind of like the body meat of Dungeness crab. The next day, I experimented and made a silver fish, mushroom and green onion omelet. Yummy! My friends would really freak over these dishes. You know, with the eyes and all! I think I will bring it up during tomorrow’s trail ride. 😉😄

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