Yayu was the name, which back in the era of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) was already given to the Schintorax cyprinid. It is a precious fish, just like trout, and very similar to carp or barbo, which lives in the fresh waters of lakes, and which originate from the Himalayas and descends into India or Tibet.
The yayu fish, whose stock are in depletion, is still fished to this day in the waters of the Qingyi river.
Its body is rather compact with a cone-shaped head. The upper part of its body is a grey-green colour, and in smaller species features sporadic black marks, the abdomen is silvery-white and the tail fin is a reddish colour.
The yayu fish lays its eggs on the floor of torrents where fresh water flows rapidly. The waters where it lives must have a high oxygen content and a temperature between 18° and 22°. The pH must lie between 5.5 and 8.2 with an ideal value of 7-7.5. In particular, it loves the fresh water currents that spring from sandy geological layers. Its reproductive season is between August and September.
It feeds almost entirely off aquatic insects and larva.
Its flesh is tender, flavoursome and it is normally steamed, but can also be boiled, fried, roasted or marinated. A characteristic recipe of Ya’an is the ""yayu in a saucepan"", a dish that dates back to the era of the Qing dynasty. It was one of the favourites of the widower empress Cixi, who would have it prepared in a special saucepan found only in the county of Xingjing.
Yayu fish is also mentioned in a poem by Dofu, a poet from the Tang dynasty.
Due to the mass exploitation of this fish, which reproduces only naturally and with a certain degree of difficulty, and also due to pollution in the waterways of the Zhougong district, the yayu fish is at risk of extinction, so much so that the Province of Sichuan has indicated it as a protected species.