I guess everybody is expecting some duck dish reading the title Bombay duck, well…it’s not.
Bombay duck is a fish and not a bird, an ugly one too.
Its a little stink smelling and sort of pungent.
Don’t run away, please!
There is much more to it.
Thinking this extraordinary fish must be having some qualities at least, to make me write a post about it.
Bombay duck, in English, also called Bombil or Bummalo in India, is a small fish with big huge Jaws.
They eat mostly prawns and small fish and move in large groups.
They are so ugly, that looking at them they will remind you of a deep sea fish monsters.
The flesh is kind of Jelly like and emits a phosphorescent glow in the dark.
The name to it is kind of a mystery and unknown to locals.
Some say it is named as such because the catch in the Bombay bay area is better, but then I have seen different stories on the web.
The fish is common in West India from Gujarat/Diu till Bombay.
So, we in Goa don’t get to fish this tasty treat.
Only recently the fish is sold fresh in the market in Goa.
Bombay duck is a fish mostly enjoyed by the lower income groups.
Valuing the Bombay Duck
It is cheap to buy it in markets, but nowadays the interest in this unique fish has risen and all people relish and purchase it.
The value of the fish rose when the British discovered its intriguing taste, especially in company with rice and curry.
Bombay duck was exported for very long time to the UK, till it was stopped in 1997 due to freshness “excuses”.
The preparation is the key to understand why Bombay duck is so special of a fish.
I have never eaten a fresh Bombay duck and what I can hear, nobody enjoyed it.
Maybe there is a great way to prepare it fresh but nobody around me knows how to.
The fish has to be salted and dried for some time.
You get those ready packet Bombil ducks, those are dried for much longer and are just fried in little oil just before serving.
The homemade is dried minimum of 2 hours but can be left standing for little more time and are much tastier!
This is not an ad. It is only for education purpose.
It is a must try for those who are curious.
The pungent strong smell might turn you off but it’s well worth it for its unique flavors.
The dried flesh is tough but crispy outside giving it the other dimension.
I absolutely enjoy it and my husband too, and we are really food fuzzy!
Homemade Bombay duck – Serves 3
9 Bombay Ducks
A ~ handful of Sea salt
Container with smaller cover fitting in and a stone
for the frying:
2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp or less Chili Powder
Start by rinsing the fish and removing the huge jaw head and the losses, as you do with other fish. (it was already removed on my pictures, my mother in law had removed it already).
Bombay duck has 1 main middle bone which can be left or removed.
When eating the dried fried fish it is difficult to taste or feel the bone, so you can either leave it or remove it.
To remove cut the fish from the bottom in towards the center to the bone.
Remove the bone by cutting it out with a scissor.
That will save you time and hassle.
Done with that, the fish has to be flattened, for that grab a container and place the fish full opened flat inside.
Salt each layer generously but not to the extent that you are left only with salt, and cover it adding a stone weight to press the fish well down.
Keep it all resting for 2 hours minimum.
When you take out the fish later you will realize it has shrunk and dried.
Rinse the dried fish and just before frying adds and rub Turmeric and Chili powder on the fish and add it to the hot pan with little oil, frying it for some time.
Always keep an eye on it so it won’t burn.
When it is crispy, it is ready.
Bombay duck is well accompanied with rice, red Dal or Curry and with some type of Vegetable bhaji such as Ladyfinger.