If You See a Snakehead in Central Park, Eat It


Ugly but delectable: the snakehead fish

New Yorkers were shocked by recent news that snakeheads – fierce predatory fish that originated in Southeast Asia – had been discovered in Central Park’s Harlem Meer. They were said to be bigger and more dangerous than piranhas. The Central Park Conservancy put up signs warning anglers, “If You Catch This Fish, Do Not Release: It’s Highly Invasive And A Threat To The Ecosystem.” TV and radio news outlets ran footage of nervous correspondents standing by the lake interviewing bystanders, who had supposedly seen the fish’s dorsal find cutting through the water. These reporters wondered out loud if pets and babies were in danger. Well, long before these fevered reports surfaced, Fork in the Road was eating the fish at restaurants within the city limits…and thoroughly enjoying it.

The green-and-red warning signs are up around the Harlem Meer.

Snakehead fish are a staple of the Southeast Asian diet, with delicious-but-bony flesh that’s pink, like salmon, and a skin that cooks up crisp. It can be found on the menu at Chao Thai Too, which is one of the city’s very best Siamese restaurants, under the LIRR overpass in Elmhurst. The fish comes cut-up in short sections, served in a ceramic boat with salad and a dark soy sauce infused with green onions and garlic. Dip and chew.

And anglers – if you happen to catch one, watch your fingers and kill it immediately. And then, instead of looking for a reporter – go home and eat it. Much better tasting than bluegills or trout.

By the way: Not to give you nightmares, but the fish has been known to “walk” on land by pulling itself forward with its fins.

Fried snakehead at Chao Thai Too is imported from Thailand, where it’s commercially caught as an important food source.

Next: A video of snakeheads in Central Park (Barnaby, British Columbia, Canada)