Tinfoil Barb
Whole Tinfoil Barb [Barbonymus altus (Red Tailed Tinfoil (photo)), B. schwanenfeldii (Tinfoil Barb), Poropuntius malcolmi (Goldfin Tinfoil)]

Found in the rivers of Southeast Asia these are very small carp. The photo specimen (B. altus) is 10 inches and weighed 1 pound but most are smaller, while B. schwanenfeldii (black edges on the tail) can get 13 inches. The Goldfin doesn't tolerate aquaculture and is only sold locally in Southeast Asia.

More on the Carp Family.

This is one of the most delicious fish I know. It has one problem - it's a carp, so you have to deal with a number of branching spines in the flesh. My favorite way of eating it is skin-on fillets dusted with rice flour and fried in olive oil but it is very good steamed or baked whole or as fillets.

DO NOT cut this fish crosswise or cut scores through the skin for any method of cooking. The spines are quite manageable full length but if you cut them into pieces they are not. A fragment of spine embedded in your throat is not particularly dangerous but it can be uncomfortable.

The scales are large, tough, deeply overlapping and have strong adhesion making it fairly difficult to scrape them off. You may have to pull some off with your long nose pliers. Cleaning is fairly easy. Though the body cavity is large the innards pull out easily. The gills pull loose easily enough but are hard to get at due to the very small gill slits. You can pull them out with your pliers or you can poke them back into the main cavity and remove them from there.

It fillets easily but the skirt area is quite thin. I find more flesh is retained by cutting the ribcage from the spine and pulling the ribs from the fillet. They're very long so pull them outwards rather than lengthwise as with most fish. Yield is modest with a 1 pound fish yielding 6.1 ounce of skinless fillet (38%).

Skinning this fish is a bit trickier than usual, but the skin shrinks very moderately and doesn't have a strong flavor so bits of it left on are not a problem - in fact the skin can be left on entirely for many recipes.

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