Check out these beautiful silver-colored fish—they are so metallic-looking and shiny, they don't even look real. They've been posted a few times recently by a TikTok user named Brave Ivy, who describes themselves as a "fisherman" who shares "interesting things" from their work.
I've never seen these metallic fish before, so I investigated a bit. Turns out they're called ribbonfish, or cutlassfish, or hairtail fish. Encylopedia Brittanica provides this overview:
Ribbonfish, any of several species of deep-sea, marine fishes constituting the family Trachipteridae (order Lampridiformes). The family contains three genera: Trachipterus, Desmodema, and Zu. These slender-bodied fishes occur in all the major oceans. The name ribbonfish comes from the laterally compressed, elongate body. Ribbonfishes are further distinguished by their upward-pointing caudal fins and lack of anal fins. The largest of the ribbonfishes, T. arcticus, reaches a length of 2 m (6.5 feet) and is found in cold northern waters.
In Louisiana, they're called ribbonfish. Louisiana Sportsman describes them:
Commercial shrimpers dub them silver eels, and consider them a minor nuisance for their habit of getting halfway through the meshes of their trawls' bags and dying there.
Elsewhere in the world, where they are very commonly chased by commercial fishermen for human food, they are invariably called hairtails.
The Atlantic cutlassfish, Trichiurus lepturus, was certainly descriptively named by the scientist who chose the name: Trichiurus means "hair tail" and lepturus means "slender tail," both in Greek . . .
Not only is it found in the Gulf of Mexico, but it ranges the entire Atlantic coast of North and South America and the Pacific coast from Baja California south to Chile. It is found in southern Europe's Atlantic waters, the Mediterranean Sea, the entire coast of Africa, and every coast in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.
In short, they are everywhere.
They are also delicious to eat, as Salt Water Mecca explains:
While the ribbon fish looks like it's from outer space, it has a very familiar taste.
A bite of ribbon fish uncovers a delicate, mild, and buttery taste. The meat has a very clean and slightly briny taste, that is not overly fishy.
Many compare the flavor of ribbon fish to that of flounder, speckled trout, spanish mackerel and other mild, flakey fish.
The filets are bright white and have a gentle flakiness yet firmness to them. The fat content on ribbon fish makes it a perfect candidate to eat raw and enjoy it's natural briny, clean taste.
Because of its natural flavoring, you don't need to overseason the fish and you can prepare it in a variety of ways. My first time trying the fish, it was lightly seasoned with salt and pan-fried to perfection.
Enjoy these videos, and share in the boards if you've ever seen, caught, or eaten one — I'm curious to know!