Steamed fish recipes are very popular among Chinese families. In fact, one of my top three recipes on Nyonya Cooking is the Cantonese Steamed Fish which garnered over 850,000 views. Steamed fish is so easy to prepare. Moreover, steaming is the best method to opt for in order to taste the freshness of the fish.
Teochew is actually a Chinese dialect. There are many Teochew recipes using seafood and vegetables. Generally, Teochew dishes do not use much seasoning as they rely on the freshness of the ingredients. Whether or not you are a “Teochew-nang” (people of the Teochew dialect), you will appreciate the natural sourness of the pickled plum and mustard green in this dish. A good selection of fresh tomatoes also enhances the sourness and sweetness of the gravy.
The key ingredient to this dish is, of course, fresh fish. In Singapore or Malaysia, white prompret is often used in this Teochew Steamed Fish recipe. I opted for Seabass instead and it was a great match, too. The other important ingredients which are needed to create the sourish and salty flavours in the gravy are pickled plums, pickled vegetables ('kiam chai or hum choi'), tomatoes and soy sauce. Pickled plums are usually sold in glass bottles at the grocers but it may also be substituted with Japanese Ume, which is basically pickled plums too!
As for pickled vegetables, they are sold in vacuumed plastic packages. I was a little confused when faced with two different types of pickled vegetables. One of it is stated as “sour pickled vegetables” while the other is “salted pickled vegetables”. In case you are in the same predicament, just know that it is “salted pickled vegetables” which is needed in this recipe. These pickled ingredients added so many flavours to what could have been just a regular steamed fish recipe and turned it into a dish worth mentioning.
Besides all these fresh flavours, do add some really hot garlic oil onto the fish. This step is optional but I cannot resist adding spoonfuls of aromatic oil to the dish. Simply fry equally sliced garlic at medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the stove and immediately pour it onto the fish. This does not only improves the flavours but as the hot oil comes into contact with the skin of the steamed fish, the skin becomes slightly crispy. That is the final touch to make the dish perfect.
Steaming fish does not requires much effort. In fact, the cooking process only took 12 minutes and the Teochew steamed fish was ready to be served. Personally, I definitely think this dish is great for Chinese New Year. During normal midweek dinners, this dish is perfect because it is complete with lots of vegetables besides the fresh fish. Just serve together with warm rice.
Teochew Steamed Fish is also known as: 潮州式蒸鱼Chiuchow Steamed FishFish Steamed with Pickled Plum and Vegetables
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Marinate pork belly with ingredients (A). Pan fry pork belly at low heat until brown.
On a plate, lay pan-fried pork belly, silken tofu, ginger slices and scallions. Add some preserved vegetables, preserved plums and mushroom slices.
Deglaze pan used to fry pork belly at low heat with water from the soaked mushrooms. Add 'Shaoxing' wine, sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir well and set aside.
Score the fish on both sides. Lightly rub the fish skin and flesh with some of the juice from preserved plums. Carefully lay fish on top of the ingredients on the plate and place the rest of the preserved vegetables, preserved plums, mushroom slices and cherry tomatoes on the fish.
Pour gravy from the deglazed pan onto fish. Steamed fish in a wok/pan for 12 minutes at high heat.
Fry garlic slices in oil over medium heat until golden brown. Pour garlic oil onto fish shortly before serving. Garnish with ingredients (E) and serve with white rice.