Knife fish is deemed as a precious springtime delicacy. (Photo/Shine.cn)
Daoyu, or knife fish, is a rare freshwater fish from the lower and middle reaches of the Yangtze River. It’s deemed as a precious springtime delicacy and comes with a soaring price tag due to its scarcity.
This year, the larger-sized knife fish that weigh more than 100 grams can be sold to up to 4,000 yuan (US$635) per 500 grams, which means a few bites of the fish on the dinner table could cost hundreds of yuan.
The smaller fish are much cheaper — those weighing about 50 grams each cost 2,000 yuan per 500 grams.
In Shanghai, eating knife fish in the spring is a seasonal treat similar to eating hairy crabs in autumn.
Lao Ban Zhai, a traditional local cuisine eatery, is known for its seasonal knife fish menu.
There, a bowl of plain knife fish soup noodle, without any fish meat, is 36 yuan. The price of the steamed fish changes according to the market price and a small fish typically costs 120 yuan.
Due to overfishing, the amount of knife fish from the Yangtze River is decreasing rapidly every year.
The fish which used to sell in bulk is now sold per gram. But the high price doesn’t stop people seeking out the delicacy.
The harvesting period of knife fish is very strict. This year, it's from March 5 to May 10, excluding the first two weeks of April.
And licenses are limited.