Braised fish head

06:18



We love eating fish head.
Papa, the foodie, trained us well. Especially with eating fish, we will attack the fins, the stomach, the eyes and leave the meat to the children.

Our Empress Dowager is not exactly a keen cook, let alone handling fish. So, the fish we had at home are usually fillets or fish without any scales.
To have our fill of  "normal" fish, (with head and tail) we go to our regular "Zhi Char" stall at the foot of our apartment block.

This is one dish I had as a young girl, long forgotten after that and now trying to replicate the taste decades later.

What triggered me to recall the exact flavours?
The "pretty but ignoring one" said it is because I am getting on age, and tend to be nostalgic about the good old days.

As with all seafood, freshness is crucial and do get the fishmonger to clean and chop the fish head into big pieces.
Try to get your hand on good-quality brown bean paste, the end results much depend on the quality of brown bean paste.

I get my hand-made bean paste at the local Chinatown.
This stall sells soy bean related products: soy sauce, fermented bean curd, black soy bean etc.
They sell 2 types of brown bean paste there, you want the kind with chilli; the slight heat makes a big difference in the flavour.

Salted vegetable lends some crunch to this dish (which I like) and the cabbage soak up the flavorful sauce.

When I served this dish at reunion dinner 2 years ago, the family ate this dish in total silence.
It was all coming back again, that pleasant familiarity. We looked at one another and smiled to acknowledge that long lost taste.

 The "pretty but ignoring one" says it is not all bad getting on age for me after all, she gets to eat this delicious long forgotten dish again.

With sister such as this, I am confident life will never be boring for me.


You will need:

1 fish head, chopped into big piece (grouper, sea bream or sea bass)
100gm cabbage
50gm salted vegetables (stalk, not leaves)
2-3 leaves of cabbage, cut into big pieces
1-2 fresh red chilli, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, sliced
3 slices of ginger, cut
2 stalks spring onion
2 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoon brown bean sauce
10gm rock sugar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
dash of Chinese cooking wine
2 tablespoon oil
oil for deep frying fish head
100ml water


Methods:

1. Wash clean and drain dry the fish head pieces. Set aside

2. Dust the fish head with cornflour.

3. Heat up the wok. When wok is hot, pour in sufficient oil to deep fry the fish head pieces. When cooked, remove and set aside. Cleared away the deep fried oil from wok when cool.

4. Heat up wok with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add ginger, onion and stir fry until fragrant. Add garlic and chilli and brown bean sauce, fry till aromatic.

5. Toss in the salted vegetables and cabbage, mix well and add water and rock sugar. Let boil about 5 mins.

6. Add the fried fish head pieces, dark soy sauce and mix well. Cover wok and let simmer for 5-7 mins.

7. Season to taste, add a dash of Chinese cooking wine, dish up.

7. Garnish with spring onion and chillies, serve with white rice.


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