Friday, September 4, 2009

Steamed Fish Teochew-Style

teochew fish

I don't remember if I've told you before, but my helper has only three ways with fish--whole fish are either steamed Cantonese style or fried and doused with black soy sauce while fillets are breaded and deep-fried. She chooses the method of cooking based on the fish. Fine-textured fish are steamed and coarser ones are fried.

Sometimes I cook Teochew-styled steamed fish and regret it later because the tangy sauce makes me eat tons of rice with it. It can be a simple complete meal too because if you add enough 'toppings' you'll get the fibre and vitamins from them. You can see from the photo that I've overloaded the fish with a blanket of toppings. Under the fish is another layer of tomatoes, lily buds and so on. The cherry tomatoes are from Y's garden, and I always have spring onions and parsley in my garden. I think we are quite self-sufficient when it comes to greens. Take a look at what's growing in my back yard. If you've ever been to my house, you'd have heard me gush about how fresh my veg are--sometimes I think they are still alive when I cook them. Some people ask why I bother to grow my own veg and I realise that no matter what I tell them, these people will never know the thrill and joy of gardening. I just give easy answers like I don't need to wake up early to jostle in Lido market for organic veg. We compost everything that's biodegradable so there's no shortage of good soil. If you have a bit of yard, you must grow your own veg and reduce dependency on tasteless, stale supermarket produce.

My Documents7
We have bak choy, choy sum, rocket (too much of it), sweet basil, glutinous corn all the year through, almost.

There's also Lebanese cucumbers (love them), white-stemmed kangkong, sayur manis, sweet potato leaves, Thai basil, mint, chives, parsley, daun kesom, lemon grass, pandan, spring onions and even taro and a small rosemary plant that Ming brought in from Australia. That tall veg is an heirloom veg (to me) called mak choy that people used to feed ducks with, I'm told, but I love it in soups. It's a cleverly-designed veg that takes very little space because it grows upwards--you just pick the leaves around the stem and it continues to grow up. We also have dwarf papaya trees but unfortunately with so much rain recently, they are looking rather sad.

teochew fish1

Steamed Fish Teochew-Style

1 kg fine-fleshed fish (grouper, perch, bass), scored at intervals to cook faster
--lightly rub a pinch of salt all over.

50 g salted mustard, sliced thinly (I used ja cai for convenience)
1 t assam jawa (can be replaced by sour plums), mixed lightly with 1 t warm water
2 sour/salted plums, mashed lightly (don't discard seeds)
1/2 cup fried cloud ears fungus, soaked & cleaned & cut into smaller pieces, or 3 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked & cut into thin strips
10 dried lily buds, soaked, trimmed & cut into 3 cm lengths
1 small piece of white tofu, cut into thin strips
1 large tomato, cut into thin wedges
1/2 red chili, in thin strips
1/2 T fresh ginger strips

seasoning for toppings: 1/4 t salt, 1/2 t fine sugar, 2 t light soy sauce, 1/2 t chicken stock powder (optional), a few shakes of white pepper

Garnish: spring onions & cilantro

Optional: veg oil for scalding fish when it's done

1. Put the first 5 topping items into a bowl and mix in the seasoning. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Get ready a steaming wok. Put the fish on a heat-proof plate and push some of the seasoned toppings under and on top of the fish. Scatter the remaining toppings over the fish.

3. Steam the fish at high heat until it is just cooked, usually 10-12 minutes. Garnish & serve hot. You can drizzle 3 T heated oil over the fish for extra flavor.


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

that really looks like a self-sufficient garden..

genius idea for puttin cherry tomatoes in to the fish!

Anonymous said...

Woo! the photo looked great! Wish to have your garden. You are a great cook. Are you starting any cooking class after PMR?. Will send my girl there.Try the woo tau fish for Teochew steamed fish. The fish is called ikan bereanak. Teo Chew in HK use this fish for steaming. Cheap and good. Enjoy your blog as alway. Y

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

Very beautiful yard! U have sweet basil! ha should 'borrow' some from u next time

Lianne said...

Loveee your garden Terri! And am surprise that Basil grow so well under the humid Msia weather lol more should start gardening if they have the space. Not difficult at all versus going to the market jsut to pick them up.

homeladychef said...

Wow! I have tried your HK style recipe (restaurant type i think) and it's fabulous!! See here:

This Teo Choew style that will soon be tested in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing! ;)

tracieMoo said...

I'm amazed of the number of different plants you have in your garden! I love picking up fresh herbs for cooking.. The blanket of tomatoes on the fish looks really good too!

shien said...

hi hi.. just wondering if u know how to make o jien/ oyster pancake??

I really would like to know how to make teochew style and and the deep fried style...

thanks thanks..

The Little Teochew said...

You're amazing!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice patch of greens you have there. I guess it takes a green finger to understand another, especially when it comes to growing your own greens. Nothing beats the satisfaction and pride of seeing your harvests. Plough on!

terri@adailyobsession said...

joe: it is almost, really. i just need to buy carrots :))

y: hi, 1st time getting a comment frm u, woohoo! thnx for always getting me special food frm ur travels :)) about the woo tau fish, it has a head like a snake ya? i don't eat tt.u know i can't stand snakes n anything tt looks like snakes, incl eels.

don't 4get my yumyum instant noodles!

denise: come n get it, seriously!

lianne: yes, basil grws extremely well here n it's a joke tt supermarkets sell australian basil at rm150/kg!

homeadychef: glad to know tt :))

traciemoo: it really is sooo convenient to have a veg garden

shien: i've never cooked oyster pancakes. i do hav a recipe, u want it?

lilteochew:'s actually vero who does the garden now :D i just harvest haha.

terri@adailyobsession said...

creatingobjectives: ha, still up? good to know the little red dot has a such a 'green' person as u. i am impressed tt u don't hav an aircon in ur hse. i am one of the few ppl who has all the windows open everyday. i purposefully didn't install an aircon in my living room n dining room, n instead grew big rain trees n have lots of windows in my hse. the only aircn i have dwnstairs is in my tv room. i even try to limit the aircon at night, cooling the rom until 2 or 3 am then get up to open the windows. i know it saves little energy compared to all those millions of aircon tt are on every night, but i am content knowing tt i do my part to keep the air clean n the fossil fuel for future generatns.

it shocks me how every house is dotted with at least half a dozen aircons. shame.

rokh said...

you just made me have a new addition to my 'dream house' - veggie patch!

shien said...

yes please, that would be awesome terri! :)

Can you email it to

meimei said...

Yr aptly named blog is indeed an obsession of mine to read and practise cooking. You helped invoke memories of my late Shanghainese mother's cooking. She was also a great nonya cook who learnt cooking from her nonya MIL.
Thank you.

terri@adailyobsession said...

meimei: u r welcome:)

Shuk Yee said...

Love yr veg garden!!! Looking at yr homegrown veg, I just can't wait to start my own after we move into our new place! Hope to get some advice from you then.

Term papers said...

It can be a simple complete meal too because if I add enough toppings I'll get the fibre and vitamins from them. I can see from the photo that You've overloaded the fish with a blanket of toppings. Under the fish is another layer of tomatoes, lily buds and so on. The cherry tomatoes are from Y's garden, and You always have spring onions and parsley in Your garden. I also think You are quite self-sufficient when it comes to greens.

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Francis S said...

Hi, I really like your web with lots of proven recipe , could you try out Thai style steam fish ( with fish source, Garlic, lime source, chili paddy. I will defiantly try out your double skin milk which I missed

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