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!
Serves 4 | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 6 Minutes
400g cod fillet, cleaned and patted dry with paper towels
Salt to taste
3 dashes white pepper
1 big tomato, cut into wedges
1 piece pickled (sour and salted) plum
200g silken tofu, cut into small cubes
4-5 slices of ginger
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
40g pork, sliced thinly
100g preserved mustard, sliced
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ tablespoons Shaoxing wine
A pinch of sugar
1 green onion, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
2.5cm knob of ginger, julienned
A small handful of coriander, plucked
1. Sprinkle salt and white pepper on both sides of the fish fillet and set in a deep dish.
2. Arrange the tomato wedges, sour plum and tofu around the fish, and place the ginger slices on top.
3. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
4. In a sauce pan, heat up the cooking oil and add in the chopped garlic. Stir-fry until aromatic but not burnt.
5. Then add the pork, and stir-fry until half-cooked.
6. Lastly, add in the preserved mustard slices and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute.
7. Pour the sauce into the pan, let it come to a boil and turn off the heat.
8. Scatter the pork and preserved mustard on top and around the fish.
9. Pour the gravy over the fish and then steam the dish for 6 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
10. Garnish and serve with steamed rice.
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