This is a very popular dish in Malaysia. Can be bought from pretty much any chinese coffee shops or wet markets. It can be considered as a balance meal, with vegetables and fresh fish stuffing either served in clear soup or stir-fried with fermented beans (recipe below) or fermented bean paste (tau chu). I prefer cooking with the whole fermented beans but I leave that to your own liking.
This recipe calls for slightly more work since there are many steps to a good satisfying dish. Only attempt this recipe when you have a little more time on your hands. Whenever I make this, I will have it for lunch and dinner.
2 large kau yue (ikan tenggiri) approx. 800 – 900gm each
– just a note, when buying kau yue, make sure when you fillet the fish, the fish flesh is starchy and the starch sticks to your knife then you will get a springy fish stuffing when cooked. Scrap off all the lovely fish flesh from the fish carcass leaving only the head and back bone. Use a spoon, scoop up all the flesh from the fillets leaving only the fish skin. Do not discard any of the bones or skin.
Fish bones – Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, put in a smashed piece of ginger and fish bones. Stir till fish bones emit a fragrant smell then pour filtered water in slowly. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes on low heat. Add a tsp of sea salt to taste. Fish soup / stock is now ready.
Fish skin – Season the fish skin with some sea salt and pepper. Heat 4 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cut skin into smaller pieces and roll them up and place them on the hot oil. Fry till crispy and fragrant. Serve with red or white wine. Makes a great appetizer.
Fish flesh kneaded in my Kitchen Aid using the dough hook.
- 1 1/2 Tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 cup of filtered water
Mix the 3 ingredients together and slowly add into the beaten fish paste until the paste is no longer sticky. To check for a springy texture, drop a tiny fish paste ball into the boiling fish stock for 2 minutes and chew on it to check. If the paste is still soft, beat the paste longer in the kitchen aid. When the paste is ready, you may freeze some in a freezer mate for use later and the rest of the paste is ready to be stuffed into the prepared vegetables.
10 lady fingers
3 medium size brinjals
15 tofu puffs
15 long fat red chilies
1 large bittergourd
Prepared vegetable means, ladies fingers trimmed and the fine hair scraped away. A slit is made in the centre to enable the the fish paste to be stuffed nicely into.
Brinjals, cut into slices and the paste is sandwiched in between two slices.
Tofu puffs, blanched in boiling water and a small incision made for stuffing.
Red chilies, cut off the stems, make a slit and discard seeds.
Bittergourd, sliced in rings and discard the centre and the seeds. Fill the paste in the centre of the bittergourd ring.
Heat a frying pan or wok with some grapeseed oil and sear all the stuffed vegetables. Do not burn just sear them till they are just lightly browned. Set them aside until all the vegetables are done and in the same wok, add 3 Tbsp of fermented bean paste, 5 cloves of chopped garlic and saute for a minute or two, add some chili paste if desired, slowly put in all the seared vegetables. You may make them in batches, if your wok is too small. Adding a little water into the wok to create some gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note : Fish balls and fish cakes can also be made to accompany the vegetables. Serve the fish balls in the fish stock and a handful of choy sum.