You see, the word for puppy in Portuguese is filhote (filho means son). But in Belém the word isn't applied just to young canines, it is also the name of a very large member of the catfish family, one of the largest fresh-water fishes in the world. This creature's scientific name is Brachyplathystoma filamentosum, and it also bears the alternative name piraíba.
|filhote en route to market|
This fish exists only in the rivers of the Amazon rain forest. It lives in the deepest parts of the river system, which are very deep indeed, and when caught on a line it puts up a tremendous battle. Fishing for filhote is a favorite activity for sports fishermen from all around the world who come to the Amazon to fish.
|filhote at the market|
But filhote is caught primarily not because of its value as a sports fish, it's caught for its delicate and delicious flesh. Filhote is one of the favorite eating fish of the region, if not the absolute favorite. Filhote has a clean, clear taste with none of the "muddy" flavors that often mar the flavors of other members of the catfish family. The flesh is a bright white in color and when cooked properly it flakes but doesn't fall apart.
Because the taste of filhote is subtle, most Belenenses prefer to eat it quite simply - to let the taste of the fish shine through. The most common ways to serve this fish are pan-fried, grilled or roasted, lightly seasoned, and without rich sauces. We'll provide a recipe in the next post.