Steamed fish recipes are very popular among the Chinese community. In fact, one of the 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.
Types of fish to use
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. Other white fleshed fishes such as cod, grouper, red snapper, trout or bream can also be used.
Sour and salty flavours
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 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 plain steamed fish and turned it into a dish worth mentioning.
Drizzle hot garlic oil
Besides all the 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 because when 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 it was ready to be served. Personally, I definitely think this dish is great for Chinese New Year. For normal midweek dinners, this dish is perfect too as it is complete with lots of vegetables besides the fresh fish. Just serve together with warm rice.