Braised fish in claypot "taucheo hu"
The trinity of Chinese flavouring of ginger, garlic and spring onion matched with the saltiness and umami taste of a fermented soybean paste goes very well in this family's fish recipe that I have learnt by watching my mother cooked in her tiny kitchen.
The fermented soybean paste is known as "taucheo" or "taucheong" in colloquial Penang Hokkien dialect, or "taucu". It is commonly available at Asian supermarkets and sold in a jar either as whole beans or mashed up as a paste. The fermented bean paste is made by boiling the yellow soybeans first, grind them and mix with flour in order to make it into a paste. It is then soaked in salt water and sun-dried for weeks to be fermented. It has a distinct smell and taste salty and earthy, unlike a soy sauce.
This recipe uses standard Chinese ingredients of ginger, garlic and spring onions. A bit of fresh red chilli is added for a slight spiciness. Coriander leaves are added towards the end to give the fish a bit of floral lemony flavour. This is optional and can be left out if you don't like coriander. It takes less than 20 minutes - preparation and cooking - to make this delicious and healthy fish meal.
Preparation. Cut the fish fillet into thick slices. Chop and mince the garlic. Cut ginger into thin slices. Roughly cut the chilli and coriander leaves. Cut the spring onions into small pieces
Frying. Stir-fry some spring onions, ginger, garlic and fermented bean paste. Then add fish slices to lightly sear on both sides quickly, then remove
Braising. Place the fried spices in a claypot. Add some tamarind water to create the sauce. Add the seared fish and braise fish until it's cooked
Garnishing. Garnish the fish inside the claypot with chopped spring onions, red chilli and coriander leaves. Cover the lid. When ready, serve with rice
How to make
Cut the fish fillet into thick slices. Set aside.
Peel the ginger skin. Then cut the ginger into thin slices. Set aside.
Peel the garlic skin. Then chop and mince the garlic. Set aside.
Separate the spring onion into halves. Cut the bottom white half into pieces and then set aside. This bottom half will be used to stir-fry. Cut the top green half into pieces and then set aside. This top half will be used to garnish.
Roughly cut the fresh long red chilli. Set aside.
Soak the claypot with warm water for at least 20 minutes. This is to warm up the claypot before using on the stove. This prevents a sudden change in the claypot temperature.
B. Cooking - stir frying
Heat some cooking oil in a hot frying pan.
Add the chopped bottom half of spring onion first and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the sliced ginger. Continue to stir-fry for 1 minute before adding the chopped garlic.
Continue to stir fry the spices for 1 minute. Then add 1 tablespoon of fermented soybean paste. Continue to stir-fry and mix through evenly for 1-2 minutes until aromatic.
Now add the fish slices. Sear the fish for 30 seconds on each sides. Do not overcook the fish. Remove and put on a plate.
C. Cooking - braising
Place the fried spices in the claypot. Add the cup of tamarind water and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the seared fish into the sauce. Reduce the heat to the lowest temperature. Cover the lid and let the fish braised in the sauce for 3-5 minutes.
Check to make sure fish is cooked. Turn off the heat. Toss in the chopped spring onions, red chilli and coriander leaves. Cover the lid again and let the garnishes infuse into the sauce for 1 minute before serving with rice.
Firm white fish fillets (like rockling or cod)
3-4 inches thick of fresh ginger
5 cloves of garlic
1 spring onion
1 fresh long red chilli
1 sprig of corinader
1 tablespoon of fermented soybean paste "taucheo"
1 cup of tamarind water (water mixed with a pinch of tamarind pulp)