台灣的烏魚子有什麼不同?

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1993 / 2月

文‧陳淑美


愛吃魚的老饕都公認台灣的烏魚子最好吃,為什麼?


荷蘭人的文獻記載,三百年前,福建沿海居民就曉得將「紅卵,外膜厚」的烏魚子以鹽漬之。

日據時代,鹽漬加工法逐漸發展成一套精緻製程:自魚市場買來烏魚後,先將卵巢取下,去污血後,以鹽醃漬、再脫鹽、壓平後整形、烘乾,始大功告成。

加工方法已傳了幾百年了,魚漬業者仍一步一腳印,敬謹地處理烏魚子。例如,烏魚子取下卵巢後容易破損,加工的師傅必用膜薄如絲的雞腸線縫補,烘乾過程中,用乾燥機不行,因為會殘留泥土味,一定要豔陽曬過才算。「好吃,因為過程,也因為烏魚」,烏魚子業者蘇文慶說。

事實上,洄游到台灣的烏魚總是已成熟的成魚。台灣省水產試驗所調查,在台灣沿岸很少發現烏魚的幼魚,或還未成熟的魚。這些年輕力壯的成魚體態正豐,又正值求偶期,精力旺、野性十足,不管魚肉或魚卵都非常鮮美。

在西方餐點上,用鮭魚卵做的魚子醬已是公認的美食,烏魚子的老饕則只限台灣、日本、大陸、以色列等地的居民,也許是由於吃客尚少,因此抗議吃烏魚子會妨礙烏魚生態的聲音較少聽見,食客大概還可以心安理得地過癮一陣子。

〔圖片說明〕

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民國二十九年,紅毛港漁業協同組合(今高雄市小港區漁會)第一屆烏魚子加工講習會結業紀念。(楊鴻嘉提供)

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EN

The Egg--zact Recipe

Jackie Chen /tr. by Phil Newell

Seafood connoisseurs commonly agree that Taiwan grey mullet eggs are tasty. Why?


In a 300-year-old Dutch document, it is recorded that the people living along the coast of Fukien Province knew that "red-colored, thick-membraned" grey mullet eggs soaked in salt make a tasty treat. This method of preparation had evolved by the Japanese occupation era into a meticulous process: After buying grey mullet at the market, the ovaries would be removed. After washing off the blood, these were then pickled in salt. The pickled product was removed from the salt, pressed flat, cut into shapes, and dried, thus completing the process.

The method has been passed down for hundreds of years, and the fish preserving industry still respectfully completes the process one step at a time. For example, when taking out the ovaries it is very easy to break them, and the cooks doing the processing work have to sew them back up with chicken-gut as fine as silk thread. Or take drying. It just wouldn't do to use clay-oven drying--that would leave a clayey or earthen taste. Only those bits stretched out under the sun count. "It's delicious because of the process, and because of the grey mullet," says Su Wen-ching, an operator in the field.

What's mysterious is that the grey mullets that swim to Taiwan are already adults. Research by the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute shows that very rarely are adolescent or immature mullet found off the coast of Taiwan. These adults are young and strong, in fine health, and just in the reproductive cycle, so they are in high spirits and full of ambition. As a result the mullet and their eggs are both fresh and beautiful to behold.

In Western-style restaurants, the caviar made from salmon eggs is already recognized around the globe as a delicacy. For the grey mullet eggs which Chinese love to eat, the only other connoisseurs are to be found in Japan, mainland China, or Israel. Maybe it's because fewer people eat mullet eggs, so that relatively less fuss is made that eating the eggs will be harmful to the mullets' ecology. So it seems that those who love this treat can go on indulging themselves in peace for a while longer.

[Picture Caption]

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In 1940, the Hongmao Port Fishermen's Cooperative (today the Kaohsiung Small Port Area Fishermen's Association) took this commemorative photo after the class on the processing of grey mullet roe. (photo courtesy of Yang Hung-chia)

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