Karimeen (Pearl Spot or Pearlspot), which belongs to the Cichlidae family is a perennial favorite with the fish loving Keralites. It is a brackish water fish found in the lakes, rice fields, canals and ponds of South India and
There are dozens of recipes for cooking karimeen. One interesting factor is that deciding how to prepare karimeen, to a great extent, would depend on the size. Over sized karimeen and the tiny ones are not good for the pan. Ideally, fish that number five to seven per kilogram should be taken for frying. Usually people end up paying more for larger fish which may not be suitable for the recipe in mind.
What does one do with karimeen that is larger than the one in the photo?
We bake them in the traditional way. Marinated full fish is kept in a chatti (earthen vessel) that is over fire, with banana leaves under and above the fish. The chatti is then covered with its lid and embers are placed over it. Every few minutes the fish is turned over and coconut oil poured on it. Properly done, there is no other karimeen preparation to beat this, according to me.
The size of of a mature karimeen, though it might impress people, is not a yardstick of the taste. Karimeen from the
Some people confuse karimeen with pomferet and tilapia. The taste and texture of each are different. The pictures given below should help in identifying the different species.
Karimeen is a healthy food. Traditionally, coconut oil is used for cooking it. Both the fish and coconut oil contain Omega3 Factor which is cardiac friendly according to modern research. However, there is strong opposition to coconut oil from some quarters.
Use whatever cooking medium you prefer, but karimeen will still taste really good.
◙Also see: Kerala food: Kappa (cassava or casava, yuca, manioc, Manihot esculenta)