One of the reason why Malaysian food is so interesting is because of the diverse racial composition of different ethnic groups: the Malays (native), Chinese (mostly came from southern China), and Indian (mostly from southern Indian). For Chinese food alone, in Malaysia, we get to sample various regional Chinese cuisines: Fujian, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka, Fuchow, etc. There are always something different to please the palate every day.
Teochew food is quite popular in Malaysia because there are many of them in the Chinese community. In Penang, there are a few traditional Teochew restaurants and one of the dishes I love the most is Teochew Steamed Fish. Unlike Cantonese-style steamed fish (click for my recipe), which is basically a very simple dish of steamed fish with soy sauce, Teochew Steamed Fish really takes it to the next level. The dish is sour (from the sour plum, tomato, and preserved mustard), savory, absolutely delightful and appetizing to the taste buds. Teochew steamed fish also comes with soft and silken tofu, thinly sliced pork, and the garnishing of scallion, cilantro, and ginger complete the dish.
Teochew steamed fish is easy to to make at home and the ingredients are relatively easy to get. In this Teochew Steamed Fish recipe, I use the cod fillet instead of the more commonly-used whole pomfret fish or ikan siakap (Malay word for “barramundi”). The fillet of cod is much firmer in texture, but it works well as long as you don’t over-steam it. The sour plum gives the dish a deeper flavor. Enjoy!