Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Ladyfish a surprising name for Elops machnata, a silvery fish of tropical waters which has poor flesh, full of small bones. It is sometimes called ‘giant herring’, since it has a superficial resemblance to a herring, but is larger (up to 90 cm/35" in length); and sometimes ‘ten-pounder’, in allusion to the weight which anglers expect it to have. It is related to the tarpon and milkfish.

In many places the ladyfish is better known to anglers than to commercial fishermen, but it does appear in the markets in SE Asia, for example. An author in Hawaii (Rizzuto, 1977) observes optimistically that the awa’aua (its local name) can be used in fish cakes if the bones are first ‘kneaded out’, a laborious process.