Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fish Soup of the Day, 鱼汤

鲜 (pronounced sian/xian) is the Chinese character/word meaning fresh; and when it comes to describing taste/flavor, often means "unami" or "savoriness".


This is a yummy-unami fish soup that me and my friend made in the US. The best fish to use for this soup needs to be oily fish (drink the omega-3!) such as yellow croaker fish (黄鱼) or hairtail (带鱼, belt fish). Best to use whole fish. Not only that, the fish needs to be rather "hardy" under prolonged heat - so a more expensive fish such as salmon, cod, etc. may not work. I wanted to make this soup again but I could not find yellow croaker fish in the supermarket that I frequent. Maybe I should try the wet market sometime? I did come across some yellow croaker fish in Carrefour, but no way they look fresh at all. The dull eyes of the fish spell Dead-Stale. :(

Yellow Croaker Fish is available in 99 Ranch, Bay Area, California and Han Kook Supermarket Santa Clara, California; Belt Fish is available in Han Kook Supermarket Santa Clara, California. Yellow Croaker is quite a meaty and tasty fish and I heard from my friend that it is usually found in Yellow Sea and East China Sea where fast tides and bedrock underwater of the seas make it ideal to grow such fish. Likewise for Belt Fish - found in the same sea. That is why such fish is abundant and popular in Korea, and parts of China.

Fish Soup - 鱼汤
Ingredients: Oily, firm-flesh whole fish, scaled and guts removed, cleaned thorougly; Chinese cooking wine; green onions; ginger; black fungus; 4-6 thin slices of peeled Asian pear; gojiberries, re-hydrated in water or Chinese cooking wine before use

Directions: Pan fry the fish on both sides (with ginger and green onions) to release some flavors of the fish. Before dishing out the fish and setting aside, drizzle some Chinese cooking wine along the edge of the wok to sizzle more aroma and flavor. Turn off heat, set aside. Add ginger, green onion, black fungus, pear slices and whole fish into a deep pot, add in enough water to immerse the fish and start boiling at low-medium heat. When boiling, turn down heat to low heat, add in gojiberries and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes till everything is cooked. Salt to taste. (Note: Usually, we just drink the soup and don't eat the fish since all the good flavor and taste of the fish have gone into the soup)

It may sound easy but selecting the right fish for this soup recipe is critical. I am still in pursuit while this soup goes to SouperSundays at Kahakai Kitchen.

Ever had any bad hair day?

My bad hair day goes when...
I shopped at the local supermarket here and could not see the fish I want. Tried looking for alternatives quite desperately so pointed at the snapper/garouper then told the auntie (In Singapore, we use the term "auntie"/"uncle" quite loosely) behind the seafood counter I wanted to cook soup with that. She said "seabass better, the flesh/meat is finer". I looked at her, not know what she is trying to convey about soup by telling me the fine texture of the fish. She seems to be telling me seabass is better in soup than snapper/grouper? I don't know. Since I am no fish expert, the better bet is of course to listen to the auntie who works behind the fish counter selling fish, right? Urrrghhhh *pulls my hair*

Seabass I've got. What next?

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