Steamed Golden Pomfret, Teochew Style Fish
By Lee Kim Hiang
Fish is a must on the Chinese New Year menu for its auspicious symbolism of abundance. The Chinese character for fish, yú has the same pronunciation as the word “surplus”. This is translated in an increase in prosperity; and hence, eating fish is to usher in the surplus. In addition, fish must be served whole – head and tail intact – to symbolise wholeness. Serve this fish with Rainbow Yusheng With Passionfruit Dressing and New Year Crystal Dumplings
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 3-4 persons
1 golden pomfret, 500g, cleaned
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium, ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1 red chilli, sliced
40g salted vegetables, sliced and soaked in water for 5 minutes
2 medium Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked till soft and sliced
Thumb-sized ginger, peeled and julienned
1 sour plum, slightly bruised
100g soft tofu, cut into cubes
50g belly pork, sliced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
65ml chicken stock or water
100g lard, cut into cubes
1 head garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk spring onion, cut into 5cm lengths
1 stalk Chinese coriander, cut into 5cm lengths
1. Heat up a saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add lard and render until it turns light brown. Add garlic and fry until golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl. Set it aside
2. When buying fish, look for clear sharp eyes – this indicates freshness.
Rub whole fish including its belly with salt. Place fish on an enamel plate.
3. Add B ingredients on top and around fish. Red-coloured ingredients like tomato and red chilli provide essential anti-oxidants such as beto-carotene that neutralises free radicals in the blood.
4. Pour in fish sauce and chicken stock.
5. Fill up a wok with water just below the steaming rack. Bring water to a rolling boil. Cook fish for 15 minutes. Open up wok.
6. To check if fish is cooked, look at its eye and pectoral fin. See technique.
7. Leave fish in wok for another 2-3 minutes. This allows residual heat to continue cooking the fish.
8. Remove fish from wok and sprinkle topping.
9. Garnish with spring onion and Chinese coriander.
10. Serve immediately. Steamed fish is always best eaten piping hot as the meat is tender and succulent.
Photos: Lee Kim Hiang
TIP: To keep fish fresh, wrap it with newspaper and store it in the freezer. There is no need to wash the fish as water strips away its natural oil, causing it turn dry faster.
TECHNIQUE: To check if fish is perfectly cooked, look for two things. Firstly, its eyes would have turned opaque white during steaming. Secondly, the pectoral fin (those on the sides of the fish) will be erect. In its natural position, it lies flat against the body.
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