Peacock Spiny Eel
Spiny Eel [Ca Chach (Viet), Peacock Eel (fishbase) Macrognathus siamensis]
Spiny Eels are a separate order (Synbranchiformes) from eels proper and eels improper (Anguilliformes). There are a fair number of spiny eel species but this one, found in the rivers of Vietnam and Southeastern Thailand, is commercially significant (and a popular aquarium fish). Infesting freshwater rivers, streams, rice paddies and flooded forests they can grow to almost 12 inches but the photo specimen was 7.5 inches and weighed 1.1 ounces, the largest in a tray of frozen eels from Vietnam. The "spiny" part is tiny sharp stickers along the back and a couple on bottom just in front of the fin.


This fish would be a perfect candidate for dusting with rice flour, deep frying and eating "head, guts and feathers" - except for the spines which are mildly annoying. If you do go this route there's no need to clean them since there's almost nothing in them. On the other hand, if you're a little squeemish about that go ahead - nothing's lost because they split open during frying anyway. Only a severe sissy would cut off the heads though.

You can cut off the tips of the spines with kitchen shears before frying but that doesn't help much, they go deep, and the frying will crisp the points off anyway.


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