When you visit the fish markets in town or the fish counters at supermarkets these days, there is an array of seafood up for grabs. From clams and crabs to tuna and trout, you can go for your very own choice. But if you have an eye for detail, you’d notice, that while the majestic kingfish seems to hog all the limelight, the humble barracuda sits in one corner of the counter, waiting for the discerning buyer to set eyes on it.
Few buyers are, however, aware that both these fish – kingfish and barrcuda – are comparable in taste and texture though their prices are poles apart. Kingfish is available for around RO 5-6/kg while barracuda is available for RO 1/kg. And, if you are a fish lover and have tried barracuda, you would agree that it has the ability to give kingfish a run for its money.
Capt Jamal al Balushi, a seasoned fisherman and veteran who has championed the hobby fishing competitions at the PDO recreation club for many years, says, “kingfish and barracuda are both surface fish, though often one can fish barracuda in deep water. Both have small and sharp teeth that can cut your line easily – that’s why we use steel wire for one metre in the line, to make sure they don’t cut the line. Also, barracudas are available throughout the year while kingfish is a seasonal catch and one is allowed to fish it only during a window period specified by the ministry.”
Capt Jamal further asserts that kingfish is more difficult to fish as most of the time you need live bait, while for barracuda, live or dead bait both are a lure. “Most people like to eat kingfish because of its superior taste and the fact that it can be cooked in so many ways. On the other hand, barracuda is softer and preferred by many for hot curries,” he said.
Capt Jamal’s preferential verdict:
King fish – Ideal for the grill/coconut curries
Barracuda – Ideal for fishcakes/spicy curries
Grilled Kingfish/Barracuda *(use two pics to show similarity of both fish)
8-10 slices of kingfish or barracuda
6-8 red chillies soaked in half cup vinegar
6-8 cloves of garlic
3cm piece of ginger
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp coriander powder
1tsp cumin powder
Oil for grilling
Grind together the chillies along with the vinegar, garlic, ginger, all spice powders and salt. Coat the slices of fish and let it marinate for 1-2 hours. Oil your grill, drizzle the marinated fish pieces with oil and grill for 8-10 minutes, turning once. Serve piping hot with onion rings and lemon wedges.
Kingfish Coconut Curry*(use kingfish coconut curry pic)
6-8 slices of kingfish
1 cup grated fresh coconut
2tsp red chilli powder
1tsp turmeric powder
3tsp coriander seeds
2tsp ginger garlic paste
2tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
1sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies – slit
1 onion – sliced
Marinate the fish slices with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder and set aside. Grind together the coconut, all spice powders, ginger-garlic paste and tamarind paste. In a curry pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, green chillies, and curry leaves for 1 minute. Then add the ground coconut-spice paste and fry for 2-3 minutes on low flame. Add two cups of water, mix well and cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes with lid on. Then, add the fish pieces and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Enjoy with steamed rice.
Note: For Spicy Barracuda Curry, use the same recipe. However, replace the grated coconut with 1 cup of tomato puree and add 1tsp garam masala (all spice mix) to the spices.
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