Butcher stall | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Butcher stall

Butcher stall

I took this photograph on the Kam Wa Street. On closer inspection I agree that it's more likely to be a fish stall.  Please see the interesting comments below.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Sunday, November 1, 1987


Hi there,

It looked like a fish stall.  Those on the right looked like cut-up portions of some very big fishes.


Hi T.  You'd probably right.  Is the fish cooked or dried? Andrew

Andrew they are fresh fish.  In those days, likely caught that morning from the Shau Kei Wan fleet.  But by afternoon time when people shop for dinner, some will have died.  The cut-up pieces are just bigger versions of the same daily catch. 

I remember sometimes seeing the fish still moving after being cut.  Sometimes I could see the balloon shaped organ (what is it called?) still pulsating even with the head of the fish cut off. 

Gruesome stuff.  I much prefer remembering the game consols.


Hi there,

Yes, those are likely catch of the day.  However based on how they are displayed I would say those are illegal hawkers.  The USD back then would send in their squads to clear up illegal hawkers from time to time.  If they are legitimate shop/stall they would have the fishes on ice.  I saw no ice in the photo above.


Thanks to you both for your thoughts. The  balloon-like organ is probably the swim bladder, acting a bit  like the ballast tanks on a submarine!  I once watched a man in a street market trying to chop the head off a large turtle.. Of corse, there  could only be one winner but the poor old turtle kept pulling its head into its shell whenever it sensed the chopper coming down.  Quite a few people were watching, some perhaps potential customers but most, I suspect, just as curious as I was.to see who would win.

I hadn't realised that some of the 'stalls' in the street market might be illegal.  Mostly the people would smile and nod when I gestured that I wanted to take a photograph. Just occasionally, there'd be a violent shaking of the head and a stream of unintelligible, and probably very rude, Cantonese or Mandarin.  I always put it down to some still lingering fear that I was robbing them of their souls, as it was in 1958 with some of the older people, or more likely concern that they were illegal immigrants and feared being deported.

Best wishes Andrew