Chengdu: City of Gastronomy #12
耙泥鳅 -- bà níqiu
This small bottom feeder fish can be prepared a variety of ways, but the texture of the fish makes it truly unique.
A Loach is a freshwater fish. It’s found in Europe and Asia. It’s long, kind of eel like. They can grow up to a foot, but they’re pretty small and there isn’t much meat on them.
It’s not a hugely popular fish for eating -- they’re actually more popular as an aquarium fish. The ones we do eat are almost always farmed, and you probably won’t find them on menus outside of China, Japan and South Korea.
This specific type of loach is called a harrow loach. A harrow is a type of plow or something, which only made sense to me when I further investigated the fish and found out that they have these long teeth and they kind of drag them around the bottom of the pond or river and rake up food -- like a plow.
I know this isn’t going to be a popular option for tourists looking to try some Sichuan food, but the dish was actually pretty good. the texture of the fish is unique. It’s firmer than your normal fish, which is nice as far as mouth-feel goes, but it also allows the fish to take more flavor as it doesn’t fall apart easily. We got ours stir-fried with ginger, garlic, and bamboo shoots. The strong flavors mean the muddy taste that a bottom feeder like this have can be more easily covered up.
Where to try Loach in Chengdu
The most famous harrow loach place in Chengdu is:
情妹耙泥鳅 -- Qíng mèi bà níqiū
Address: 科华北路153号宏地大厦一楼 -- 153 Kebei Road (1st floor)
Map in China
It’s been around for over 20 years. This place made loach famous in Chengdu.
Their specialty loach dish is 情妹耙泥鳅 -- Qíng mèi bà níqiū.