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Snakehead - it's what's for dinner

July 25, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

You know the old saying - if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the feared snakehead fish that was discovered in a Maryland pond, It's the nasty fish with big, pointy teeth that can live out of water, can slither across dry land on its fins, will decimate native fish populations and keep the country from winning the war on terror.

When I left off, the Department of Natural Resources believed there were two or so snakeheads in the pond and figured it had an angler's chance of landing them before they crawled off to a nearby river and threatened the state's main fisheries.

Well, since that time, the score has been roughly DNR 6, Snakehead 8,953,659. That's because apparently the devil fish spawned and now there are about a zillion snakehead guppies swimming around, which of course will themselves grow to reproduce, leading to about a zillion zillion more.


Fortunately, as you may have guessed by now, I can help.

Since we're hopelessly outnumbered, at least we can make the best of their existence, if not as an article of friendship than at least as an article of diet.

The metro newspapers reported that the fish were initially released into the pond by a Chinese man intent on making soup for his sick sister. But before the kettle was warm, his sister's fortunes improved and consequently so did those of the fish.

But in the words of an ancient Chinese proverb, if he can make soup, I can make soup.

God Bless Al Gore for inventing the Internet, because I was easily able to find, which contains a recipe for snakehead and vegetable soup.

Actually there are lots of recipes for soup. As a prelude, the site brightly states that "Spring is the season of rain, fog and romance ... the mist may look romantic, yet the wet weather can make you feel bored. It is also the season where you can catch a flu or digestive problems easily."

The following soup recipes, the site assured, are nutritious, good for the digestion and can help you lose "the humidity" in your system.

It then goes on to list such tempting dishes as Monkey Head Mushroom Soup, Braised Pig Lungs and Fish Maws With Almond Juice Soup and, of course, snakehead soup.

I went straight to the snakehead recipe because, frankly, I believe that if I start eating pig lungs and fish maws, I'm going to be losing a lot more than my humidity.

(I wonder if they think the same thing about us over in the Orient. Is some Chinese kid as we speak reading a Web site and going "Eeeeeeww. Cheeseburgers! Yuuuk!")

Without further fanfare, here it is:

-- Snakehead mullet, 1 pc

-- Lean pork, 10 oz.

-- Rorippa montana (Tong Kot), 1 pack

-- Candied dates, 5 pcs

-- Beancurd, 1 pc

-- Dried tangerine peel, 1/4 pcs

By the way, I checked with Heloise, and if you're out of Rorippa montana, in a pinch you can substitute bacon bits.

Also, I have to wonder how "lean pork" slipped its way in there. Don't they mean "pig eyeballs" or "pig ear wax" or something?

So basically, you "scale and gut" the fish and fry it for a while then stew everything together for three hours. There is a photograph of the finished soup and I have to say that as repulsive as this dish may sound on its face, the picture is even worse.

It looks as if a trout ran 60 mph into a wall of ragweed. The only thing missing is a sheet over the victim.

There's another recipe for snakehead soup with watercress, but it gets an instant disqualification because it does not remove the head. That's just wrong. You don't leave a steer's head attached to the steak, do you?

The other curious notation is that the recipe says to "Scale snakehead and remove disposable organs."

After reading about monkey heads, fish maws and pig lungs, I'm wondering exactly what organs the Chinese consider to be disposable.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or e-mail him at

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