Hardtail Scad
Whole Fish [Torpedo Scad; Megalaspis cordyla]

This Indo-West Pacific fish is found from East Africa to Japan and very common around Indonesia. It can grow to 31 inches and nearly 9 pounds but the photo specimen was 11-1/2 inches and weighed 10 ounces. This is a highly commercial fish in Southeast Asia.

More on the Scad Family.



With all its lumpy armor and spiny fins running practically the full length of of top and bottom, this would seem to be an almost impossible fish to eat. In actuality, it's quite easy (see Methods below). The flesh of hardtail scad is "dark meat" but milder than, for instance, most mackerel. It stays very firm with any method of cooking.

Yield:   A 10 ounce fish yielded 3.7 ounces of fillets by Method #2 (37%), it'd be a bit more (probably 40%) using Method #1.

Skin:   The skin has almost no shrink when cooked, but the hard scutes are a problem, for the full length of the fish.

Scutes:   As with other scads, there's a row of hard scutes along the straight part of the lateral line. Unlike other scads the lateral line is straight the full length of the fish and the scutes are very large and wide. It isn't just the tail that's hard on this fish. They must be removed, which can be done after cooking (Method #1) or by removing the skin (Method #2). You could also make a cut throught the skin on both sides of the scute line and peel them off, leaving most of the skin.

Stock:   Not good - the heads fins and bones make an unpleasant, strong flavored stock - just discard them.

Method #1 - easiest and yields the most flesh.

  1. Scale the fish - not hard, it has few scales, they're very small and scrape off easily without flying about.
  2. Clean the fish. Just cut off the head behind the pectoral fins and discard. Cut the belly all the way back beyond the vent to the fins and clean out the innards.
  3. Cut off the tail. Cut through the skin all the way around the edges so it is loose from the fins and keel.
  4. Steam for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on size.
  5. Let the fish cool enough to handle.
  6. Use a knife blade to flake off the scutes for the full length of the fish, both sides.
  7. Pull out the fins both top and bottom.
  8. Push the meat off the bones from the center line out, top and bottom, both sides.
  9. Check for any bones still with the meat, particularly in the rib cage area.

Method #2 - if you need raw fillets.

  1. Scale the fish - not hard it has few scales, they're very small and scrape off easily without flying about.
  2. Clean the fish. Just cut off the head behind the pectoral fins and discard. Cut the belly all the way back beyond the vent to the fins and clean out the innards.
  3. Cut off the tail and cut the edges of the skin all the way around.
  4. Start peeling the skin off diagonally from the top front. Get your fingers under it to hold the flesh in place as you peel. Grab by the line of scutes and peel back and off the tail.
  5. Now that you have a skinless fish, just fillet the usual way.
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