Teochew Fish Porridge Recipe 潮州鱼糜 (潮州鱼粥)
Teochew Fish Porridge 潮州鱼糜 (粥) is a rustic dish made of clear broth on rice with thick fish slices, usually spanish mackerel. It is something I eat when I am not feeling well and still want something robust on my palate. In Singapore, it is also a favourite dish served to the young toddlers and old folks alike.
Recipe for Teochew Fish Porridge 潮州鱼糜(粥) (2 persons)
500g Spanish Mackerel (locally known as batang – fillet. Clean and sliced 1.5cm thickness)
Marinate fish with 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce (or salt to taste, if you want to keep the fish white-looking) and ½ teaspoon each of Sesame Oil and Cornflour.
20g Dried Shrimps (haebee), optional
(Rinsed haebee well and drain. Soaked haebee, with just enough water to cover, till soften, about half an hour. Minced finely. Reserve the soaking liquid for stock)
300g Long Grain Rice (washed and drained. Alternatively, you can use 2 cups cooked rice using rice cooker method.)
2 litres *Water
1½ tablespoon **MAGGI Less Salt Concentrated Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon Preserved Vegetables (Dong Cai)
½ tablespoon Garlic Oil (minced garlic fried in oil, reserved crisps and oil separately after frying)
A dash White Ground Pepper
** Instead of using MAGGI Chicken Stock, you can use 500g fresh fish bones. Panfry the fish bones with some oil and 2 slices of ginger till bones turn golden brown. Add 2 litres of water and simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not boil or broth may become bitter. Discard bones and reserve soup (should be about 1 litre after simmering) as stock for cooking the rice (omit the * Water in “Ingredients”).
1 tablespoon Fried #Flat Fish Powder (Tee Poh)
1 teaspoon Fried Shallots or Garlic Crisps (used in cooking the oil)
1 stalk Spring Onion (scallions – chopped)
1 stalk Coriander leaves (cut into sections)
#Tee Poh (Ti Po) or sun-dried flat fish that imparts a savoury sweetness to the stock. Omit if you can’t find it. If you can’t find pre-fried ones, panfry with a little oil till crispy and grind into powder. I do not use them at home and thus substitute with dried shrimps which is more easily available to housewives. You can prepare this in huge quantity, cool and keep in airtight container for future use. Keep in freezer for months 🙂
1. Bring water or the **stock to boil. Add in the rice and dried shrimps, simmer on medium high till 80% cooked. ***If you are using cooked rice, skip this step but do panfry the dried shrimps with very little or no oil to bring out the “sea” sweetness.
2. Add in the fish slices and continue to cook till boiling, season with MAGGI Less Salt Concentrated Chicken Stock (omit MAGGI if using own cooked **fish stock and use light soy or salt, season to taste), garlic oil and white ground pepper.
3. Scoop the fish porridge into 2 bowls (or with 1 cup ***cooked rice in each bowl). Garnish with Cilantro, Scallions, Chinese or Ice-burg Lettuce and Tee Po (if you have) and serve with a dipping side of light soy and sliced chilli padi.
Some home chefs a.k.a housewives have difficulty achieving the succulent, silky smooth texture of the mackerel fish slices that we get at the hawker stalls even though the fish was freshly bought from the market. Adding cornflour to the marinade, removing the pot from the flame before adding the fish slices did not helped – the fish turned out hard and coarse textured.
The housewives even become suspicious of the type of mackerel the hawkers use and the ones they got from the market are the same. The qualification was that they noticed the hawkers cooked the fish slices on high flame but yet they turn out perfect!
In my humble opinion, soda bicarbonate is employed. It’ll make anything tender. The trick is in the amount used. If you add too much, the flesh becomes preternatural and not to mention the diminishing nutritional value. I do not use bicarb soda.
For home cooking, it is better to use naturally tender fish to attain soft, luscious texture. I have used the Vietnamese Bassa from Queen Victoria Market when living in Melbourne. The fish was tender but not as sweet. Red snapper tastes better than mackerels. If cost is not an issue, there are other choice fish like the threadfin (my children’s fav) and pomfret.
Happy cooking, eating and bonding 🙂