Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Deep Fried Manahak (Guam Juvenile Rabbit Fish)

Juvenile Rabbit fish (Manahak)

Typically two times a year the Juvenile Rabbit fish or manahak as they are called in Guam make their runs. The runs are similar to a salmon run up the river, except the manahak run onto the reef flats from the open ocean. These runs usually occur around April to May and again in October. And the schools can be quite large with millions of these small fish. Here is a link to a video on one method used to catch the manahak:

Manahak are one of the island delicacies. They are eaten numerous ways such as fried, soaked in a salt brine, and also served in finadene with vegetables. But this post is all about frying the manahak.

Here are the photos of this process.

First the manahak is rinsed off. Doing the honors here is Chef Jeff Soriano, our resident cultural cooking expert.

The manahak are allowed to drip dry before being fried.

The wok is the preferred pan used for frying. It is fast to heat up and offers a lot of working room.

The manahak are carefully dropped into the hot oil. Cooking time is about one minute.

Here you can see the manahak frying in the hot oil.

After about one minute of frying, the fish are removed.

They are then placed onto paper towels to help soak up any excess oil.

Closeup of the fried manahak.

The menu is simple. White rice and fried Manahak. The fried Manahak is crispy and has a great but not too fishy flavor. It is almost like eating potato chips. Once you start it is hard to stop.

Master Chef Jeff multi tasking.

The harvesting, cooking and or course the eating of this island delicacy only comes a couple times a year. But is definitely enjoyed by all.

Hoped you enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed eating the manahak.

Until next time....


cowgirl said...

I learn so much from your blogs! Thank you Rueben, this is amazing! :)

Rueben said...

Thank you Cowgirl. These manahak taste so good and they are a whole lot of fun to catch. And these little salty creatures go great with an ice cold beer. Wow!!

Perry P. Perkins said...

See? I would LOVE to try that!

We used to to something (kinda) similar here in Oregon, catching smelt from the river in huge dip nets and frying them in galic oil. Quite a bit bigger than these, though, the smaller fish would likely have a great consistency!

Thanks for sharing!

Rueben said...

Perry, thanks for visiting the site. Those smelt sound great also. Down in Cali we have the Grunion that come up onto the beach to spawn and we scoop them up and fry them.

But these little manahak are on a whole different level. Just can't stop eating them once you start. Better have a few "cold ones" close by.

Coshon said...

This recipe has the wheels in my head turning Rueben! Tomorrow I am need to dust off the old cast net and get out to the water!

Rueben said...

Coshon, that's right...You got all that Bayou water with plenty of fish. You should be able to hit it big and have one big fry. Don't forget the camera.

Ron Perez Whiteman said...

I was taught to pronounce this as manyahak. It's spelled manahak but has a little squiggle over the n. I started eating this back in the early '50s when my grandfather, Antonio Diaz Perez, used to make it all the time.

Rueben said...

Ron, you are right about the pronunciation. The ñ sound is like an "n" and "y" combined. There are two common spellings. One is mañahak and the more common spelling is mañahac. But no matter how it's spelled, the flavor of this juvenile Rabbitfish is delicious. :)

Cathy said...

Hi Reuben, thanks for your blog! Do you have any tutorial or written chamorro recipe for the salted manahak? In the good ole days, my mother would salt it and store it in one of the large kosher pickle (glass) bottles. I recall a rinsing process that involved heating of the salted liquid and letting it soak. A day or two later, when it came time to eat, she would spoon out a generous serving into a bowl, add lemon and donne to it and it was the best! I wish I took better notes on the process.