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Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish Recipe

Salty Fish / Kiam HuCertain dishes include 3 parts nostalgia in the recipe. This is one of those meals; it brings back lots of childhood memories to me–um, all of them bitter and resentful.

I did not appreciate this dish as a child – not because it didn’t taste good or because the stinky smell of salted fish was overpowering–but because I was one who had to remove the root from each sprout. Ever had to do this? Ever had to remove the root hundreds of times every meal. Thousands of times each month. Millions every year. I grew to hate this dish whenever my mother prepared it.

I’m over it now though.

Stir-fried Bean Sprouts with Salty Fish / Taugeh Char Kiam HuGrowing up in a big family, Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish was a staple in our diet. It was simple, cheap and healthy (it was simple for everyone except me!). I recall going to the wet market with my mother where we paid only RM 0.20 for a big pack of bean sprouts. Then my mother would “ask” me to help her with plucking the roots as she prepared the rest of the meal. It wasn’t much fun for a 7 years old stuck in the kitchen for the afternoon with a mountain heap of bean sprouts and their roots, having to clean every single one of them. It was probably one of the most boring tasks ever.

OK, maybe I’m not quite over it yet.

I secretly swore to myself that when I grew up I would be wealthy enough to never have to prepare salted fish and bean sprouts ever again.

I think the country has grown up with me. Nowadays in Malaysia you can hardly find this dish at restaurants anymore–unless you go to small mom-and-pop eateries. Look for at least one very bitter small child in the back.

Never mind my childhood baggage though, you should try preparing Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish yourself–they truly are delicious.

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15 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

    • Amex Ang Moh

      You are so wrong. And didn’t you hear that it’s completely uncool to be racist these days? Time to upgrade the grey matter, my culinary friend.

  1. Anonymous

    yup–nothing like(the big thaugay) fried with udang kering,ikan-masin n slice chillies,n also some tofu.Here ,i cook the beans sprouts with Fish soy sauce ,instead of using salt fish–taste sama-lah.—-Mike:-)

  2. Karen

    OMG! THAT was MY job too. Now, I just cook the bloody bean sprouts with the roots (when I am super laze) or cut them off with a knife.

    • Peter Kong

      I am sure if you can find a shop selling ready mixed rojak paster will also sell the salted fish in packets.

      You can probably get them in some supermarkets. You can get them easily in Penang.

    • Peter Kong

      I am sure if you can find a shop selling ready mixed rojak paster will also sell the salted fish in packets.

      You can probably get them in some supermarkets. You can get them easily in Penang.

  3. Anonymous

    I know what you are talking about!!. My mom used to make me do the same thing, plucking the roots of the bean sprouts… is so funny…I make my husband and son help with that when I make this dish…. Thanks for all your recipes… living in California we have the previledge to have all these asian’s market that have lots of imports from asia available for people who missed their mom’s cooking…it might not be exactly the same but close to it, and it will take your taste palate back to the flavor that you miss most. Especially now, I am pregnant I craved Rojak the most…it has to be spicy with lots of chili …thanks again and all the best…

  4. Anonymous

    Hey, my ang-moh husband just loves salty fish (don’t ask me how or why, he just loves it). In fact, he reminds me to get some whenever we get to Malacca. And surprise, surprise, he does the best salt-fish-taugeh saute – add some chilli for more of a “oomph” punch.

  5. Irene Chan

    Look at the bean sprouts with salted fish, i love it very much. I mean by eating not plucking the tails of the the bean sprout. Bee, I hated to sit infront of the bean sprout like a mountain when i was young.

  6. Peter Kong

    The bean sprouts long ago had long roots but nowadays they have a variety with very very short roots or almost no root. No need to pluck roots anymore. I had to pluck roots before as a kid when most of your parents were kids like me and the work is so tedious.

    There is another variety of bean sprouts with very big head. Taste good too.

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