HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Aug 29, 2014 09:53 PM

A fish market find - what is it?

I picked up a lovely, bright-eyed "red cardinal" fish at my local Vietnamese market today, and grilled it whole after cleaning. It weighed about 1.5 pounds, was bright red and had a very spiny dorsal fin. It had such an interesting flavor - like lobster or crab, but with the texture of a medium-firm white fish! Does anyone know anything about this fish? Google isn't giving me much, only information on aquarium fish.

    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: menuinprogress

      Baja Cardinal Snapper, hook and line harvested fish taken in and along swallow water reefs by pangas. This is not a deep water type snapper however it can still be found in some general area in deep water. This fish while in the snapper family is not of high value therefore not harvested on a massive type scale. This fish while a great value tends to go soft fast and therefore needs to move quick from "Dock to Plate".
      One will notice the smaller mouth and that it is not gutted nor gills out.
      Fact number one. In gutting of the small fish, the stomach has very little liner to it therefore the inner liner breaks and water will enter the meat making this fish close to un-marketable.

      Fact number two: Notice the mouth, is smaller and lacking in jaw mussels and teeth, this shows the main diet of this fish to be small "FIN FISH" which have a high oil content. (fat and oil are not the same in fish)and that being said the smaller fin fish when eaten tend to decompose at a faster rate inside the stomach, therefore this little red fish needs to be moved at a fast rate, one reason why you will see it at the Vietnamese markets. They have a customer base which will help in moving this fish before it goes ,,, south shall we say.

      sorry for any and all mis-spelling for i am just a simple fishmonger,

      1. re: bluefin2na

        Love having your expertise here!

        1. re: bluefin2na

          Is this also known as a sea robin.

          1. re: bluefin2na

            Thanks for the great information! I always enjoy getting fish at my Vietnamese market because they are so fresh, and sometimes they get cool fish I've never seen, like this one!
            Do you know- do cardinal snappers usually taste like shellfish?
            And are there other uncommon fish I should keep my eyes open for at the market? A few weeks ago they had done beautiful sculpin, but haven't seen any since. Now I'm kicking myself for not getting some then!