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Broiled Yellow Croaker, worry about the fish smell?

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May 28, 2010

Broiled Yellow Croaker, worry about the fish smell?

"Mommy, why is this fish's mouth is so wide open?" That was the question of my son, the toothless, asked when he saw these broiled fish on the dinner table. "Well, because he is screaming to tell me that the oven was too hot for him" That was the answer I could come up with. LOL! :D

I literally grow up eating fish pretty much on the daily bases. My parents loved fish, or anything that grows under the water. It has to be fresh, mostly alive when they buy them. 

The other day I went to the local wet market in Wan Chai to look for fresh fish. They call it "wet" because the ground in the market is wet. Make sense! 

I like to go there often to see local people's way of living. There is something about market that teaches you the importance of life, the energy, and the diligence. People sell, people buy..., beautiful produce..., hard working locals to get by their daily needs.  Things that you don't feel the same way from the big grocery stores where everything is nicely prepacked and displayed.

I took my camera with me last time to see the local produce through the lense.
Here are some I would like to share with you...

This is the local tram stop at Wan Chai market.

This is the tram.
It only cost HKD$2 (25 cents US) to use it. 

One of the market entrance.

 one of the many fish stands.

 A man cleaning fish for his customers.

The life of fish!

Well ripened papaya

 The dragon fruit. 
Looks gorgeous outside but not so sweet inside...
Not a big fan of these fruits.

one of my favorite tropical fruit.
White flesh inside, very sweet and juicy.

 Jackfruit, Durian
Not a big fan, either.

Sponge gourd.

The kindest lady I know in the Wan Chai market.
although I don't speak Chinese, and she doesn't speak English well either,
she always greets me with smile and gives me a bunch of green onion for free
even if I buy just a single zucchini.

That is ox tail!
and the lady on the right bought it.
I wonder if the butcher removes all the hair out of that tail...
Kinda gross to me....

The yellow croaker, the star of today's posting!
One of my favorite fish and my kids just love them.

Now, we will end the tour of the market here. More comes later!
I will share with you how you can enjoy these yellow croaker in a simple broil method.
Pull your sleeves and let's get to work on this fish!

Some people hesitate cooking fish because of the smell.
Yes, if you don't treat the fish well, it will smell up your kitchen pretty bad.
Always look for fresh fish.  That is the first step.

Here are some tips how to choose fresh fish.

1. Look at their eyes. Bright and clear is the one you need to look for.
2. Smell it. Fresh fish is not stinky. It should smell like clean water.
3. Shiny? Yes. Dull? No
4. Look for bright red gills. Old fish will have darker brownish gills.

So you got the fish, the whole fish?
You would think your fish man cleaned all the scales and get rid of inside stuff?
Well, unless he has a crush on you, the chances are NO!
Scales are the one causing the most smell when cooking,
and you need to remove as much as you can.

The fish guys usually remove the body part's scales very well but not around the head.
So, shave his head, please!
Say hello darling!

Remove more scales around the fins as well.

Wash them good.

Cut off the fins.
They are the ones get erected in the heat and get burned fast.
Besides who eats the fin?
(except the shark's fin...)

Trim off these fins as well,

and more...

Well, these guys are all shaved and trimmed, slick!
Get some coarse salt.

Sprinkle salt inside and


Cover with plastic wrap.

Here is what you need to decide.
I would like to eat this fish for dinner that night so I let them chill for about 6 hrs until ready.
The amount of the salt in the recipe is based on that time.
If you don't have much time, increase the amount of salt.

Also, you can freeze these guys for later use. 
Just wrap them individually and put them in zip lock bag, 
keep them in freezer up to couple of month.
How to thaw?
You can use microwave but I prefer this way.
Dunk the entire zip lock bag in the cold water for 20 minutes.
They are as fresh as before!

Ready to broil?

First, Wash the fishes again to remove excess salt. Set aside.
I will show you my secret of broiling fish without the worry of smell during cooking.

These are the peels of fruits, and veges.
Oranges, limes, lemons, apples, pears, onions, ginger, herbs,
any roots or leaves of veges such as celery, you name it.
Even watermelons or cantaloupes peels are good to use.

Do not throw away those peels. Recycle, baby!
Put them in a big zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer.
They are the fish smell busters!

Not only that, they infuse the fish with nice aroma, and keep them moist and flaky.
I even use them when roasting chicken. Wonderful!

Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the peels. Easy clean up!
You need a lot to cover the entire pan.
Place a rack on top of the peels.
Remember to spray the rack with oil spray, otherwise your fish will stick on.

Now, go back to the fishes and give them a few slits on both sides.
This will help the steam to escape and help even cooking.

Place the fish on top of rack and sprinkle just a little more salt on top if you like.
If your fish has been cured with salt for a long time you don't need to add more salt.

Pour about 1/4C of water in the pan. This will prevent the peels from burning.

Put them in preheated hot oven with broil setting, about 3 inch below the heat.
Broil for 8-10 minutes each side. 
Always check during that time to make sure they are not burning.

You might smell just a tiny bit when you open the oven to flip the fish to the other side.
But it should be gone by the time when fish is all done.
You will be amazed that you don't smell the fish at all.

Here is the perfectly broiled fish.
If you broil these guys without the peels,
you will be pinching your nose by now,
and the air in the room will be filled with fish smell for a few days. Yikes!

But how about the cutting board, knife, or your hands that cleaned these fishes?
Yes, They will get smelly. 
What do you do?

(So lucky to have extra hands here!)
After you clean them with soap,
You can use vinegar or lemon juice.
But I use sugar, white or brown, and rub them.
I don't know how, but somehow it works.
Your hands will feel so smooth, too.
Try it!

I usually serve this fish with Korean soy sauce (gook ganjang).
A tiny bit of dipping is all you need.
Tastes awesome that way!

Fish A : "Dude! that oven was so hot."
                     Fish B : "What did you expect? An air conditioner?"

Broiled Yellow Croaker
(Jogi guwi, 조기구이)
serves 2-4

2 whole yellow Croaker, scaled and cleaned
1/4C coarse salt
Bunch of frozen fruit and vegetable peels (orange, lemon, lime, onion, celery, ginger, etc)
1/4C water
Oil spray
Korean soy sauce for dipping, optional

1  Remove all the scales on the fish including body, around head, behind fins.
Wash them well. Trim off all the fins and sprinkle salt inside and outside of fishes.
Place on the plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let it chill for 6 hours or overnight.

When ready, preheat your oven on broil setting. The rack should be about 3 inch from the heat.
Wash the fish again to remove excess salt. Set aside.

Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the frozen fruit and vegetable peels all around. Spray a broil rack or mesh with oil spray and place on top of the peels.

Give a few slits on both side of fish with a knife and place the fish on top of the pan.
Place the pan in the hot oven with broil setting. Broil for 8-10 minutes each sides. Carefully flip in between.
Serve with Korean soy sauce if you wish. Dip bite size fish just a little bit in the sauce.

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At May 29, 2010 at 10:04 AM , Anonymous Rachael said...

어제 김치님 블로그에 들어왔는데 오늘 또 왔어요.
조기구이를 이렇게 깔끔하게 할수 있다는걸 알려주셔서
감사해요. 생선의 비린 냄새를 과일껍질을 이용해서 없앨 수도 있고,저렇게 구우면 정말 맛있을 듯 해요. 보통 그냥 레몬정도 짜서 뿌려먹던것과는 다른 색다른 조리법이네요.
그리고 생동감있는 사진도 참 좋구요.홍콩은 몇번 가봤지만
매력있는 곳이란 생각이 들어요. 조기구이 레서피 감사드려요. 오늘은 엄마가 구워주신 조기구이가 그리운 토요일
오후랍니다. 편안한 주말되세요. : )

At May 29, 2010 at 9:11 PM , Anonymous Linda's Yummies said...

I really loved reading this post. I could just imagine myself there with you. I try to buy at farmer's market and small local markets as much as I can. Too many chemicals used to ripen fruits and vegetables at the big supermarkets nowadays like chloroethan-phosphonic acid (commercially used for enhancing tomato fruit ripening). We should all try to support the local markets :)

At May 30, 2010 at 5:03 AM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...

@Linda's Yummies
Yes, I agree with you. We should support the local market. It is sad to see more and more small businesses disappear these days and replaced by big corporates. Thanks for the info about the chemicals.

At May 30, 2010 at 8:02 AM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...


저도 가끔 제 어머니가 정성껏 구워주신 생선구이가 그리울때가 많아요. 옛날 노래중 "어머니와 고등어"라는 곡이 생각나네요. 다음주에 고등어 한놈 구워먹을까봐요.

At May 30, 2010 at 10:52 AM , Blogger tofugirl said...

Beyondkimchee, I love your blog! So funny, and such a great tip on cutting down on fish smell (seriously, I don't cook fish much because of the smell but I will try this tip. Watch out, fishies!!)

I was in HK for the first time earlier this year and we stayed in Wan Chai--so nice to see it again to bring back the good memories :) I really enjoyed seeing the wet markets, and wished I had a kitchen to cook in!

At May 30, 2010 at 6:47 PM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...

Thanks, tofugirl.
HK is quite charming place on its own. It is like East meets West culture that I love. Thanks for stopping by.

At May 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM , Blogger tigerfish said...

I had more tips on handling the yellow croaker. Thanks! Seriously, they looked so perfectly cooked that I can have two of them(yes, everything!), then some sponge gourd soup.

At June 1, 2010 at 7:00 AM , Anonymous Alisa-Foodista said...

You have a wonderful blog!I followed you from the foodie blog roll and enjoyed reading your posts.If you wont mind I'd love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post and it's all set, Thanks!

At August 8, 2010 at 5:50 AM , Blogger quixotic said...

Now I understand.. was wondering where to get fresh kaffir leaves in the Us.
Just found this blog via
It's so much fun going through all your blog, can't wait till you get back from your summer vacation.

Fyi - the jackfruit is not a jackfruit, it's a durian. :) smells glorious (for most)

At September 3, 2010 at 9:15 PM , Blogger Janet :-) said...

thanks for this tip! i usually pan fry my fish but next time, i'm going to try your method. love your blog!

At September 30, 2010 at 7:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Beyondkimchee,
Just thought I would point out that the jackfruit you're referring to is actually a durian. You have a great blog though, keep up the good work.

At October 14, 2010 at 2:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog..You are such an amazing mom and wife. Missed you guys! Your husband must be very lucky to have you. Cheers!!

At December 7, 2010 at 5:51 AM , Anonymous ian said...

i have got 120 of the little fella's to sort out, thanks for the tips

At December 7, 2010 at 6:28 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Have fun with 120 of them. That is a lot of work. Good luck!

At December 25, 2010 at 11:23 AM , Anonymous emily said...

The one that you mention as jackfruit is called durian actually .. and most can 't stand the smell ..but our family love it very much

Nice blog anyway ...

At April 22, 2011 at 9:22 PM , Anonymous Zoe said...

I love your post and recipes, they're always so interesting! Thanks for sharing.

But can I make a comment about how you always make animal jokes with the meat.. It's not very funny and quite creepy. Like the fish saying how hot it is in the oven, the headless chicken, oink oink pig jokes or cow jokes. I know you're trying to make it a fun post but it's awesome enough. It feels rather insensitive to the animals..hope you know what I mean.

At March 4, 2012 at 4:59 AM , Anonymous Monzoor said...

Me and my wife have bought this fish very first time in our life. While having look at at the fish in local chinese grocery we assumed this fish might taste good. Today we were wondering what to do with this fish. We googled about this fish got some information and came across your blog. What a wonderful blog you have!

Thanks for your all out informative, touchy and nice visual presentation.

We will be in touch with your blog.

Carry on and stay smilling...  

At March 4, 2012 at 7:29 AM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...

Oh, I am glad that you found my blog, too. Hope you enjoy your fish and look forward to hear from you again.


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