Teochew Steamed Fish is a representation of what Teochew cuisine is all about - fresh, light and healthy. If you want to cook just one dish, this dish is for you! An easy recipe using lots of vegetables with a great balance of sourness and saltiness.
Steamed Fish recipes are very popular among Chinese families. In fact, one of my top three recipes on Nyonya Cooking is the Cantonese Steamed Fish which garnered over 850,000 views. Steamed Fish is so easy to prepare and steaming is the best method to use to taste the freshness of the fish. Teochew is actually a Chinese dialect. There are many Teochew recipes using seafood and vegetables. Generally, Teochew dishes do not use much seasoning as they rely on the freshness of the ingredients. Whether or not if you are a 'Teochew-nang' (people of the Teochew dialect), you will appreciate the natural sourness of the pickled plum and mustard green in this dish. A good selection of fresh tomatoes also adds a hint of sourness and sweetness to the gravy.
The key ingredient of this dish is, of course, fresh fish. In Singapore or Malaysia, white prompret is often used in this Teochew Steamed Fish recipe. I opted for Seabass instead and it was a great match too. The other important ingredients which are needed to create the sourish and salty flavours in the gravy are pickled plum, pickled vegetables (kiam chai/hum choi), tomatoes and soy sauce. Pickled plums are usually sold in glass bottles at the grocers but can also be substituted with Japanese Ume, which is simply pickled plums too! As for pickled vegetables, they are sold in vacuumed plastic packaging. I was a little confused when faced with two different types of pickled vegetables. One of it was stated as "Sour Pickled Vegetables" and the other was "Salted Pickled Vegetables". In case you are in the same predicament, just know that it is "Salted Pickled Vegetables" which is needed in this recipe. These pickled ingredients added so many flavours to what could have been just a regular steamed fish recipe and turned it into a dish worth talking about.
Besides all these fresh flavours, do add some really hot garlic oil onto the fish. This step is optional but I cannot resist adding spoonfuls of aromatic oil to the dish. Simply fry equally sliced garlic at medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the stove and immediately pour it onto the fish. This does not only improves the flavours but as the hot oil comes into contact with the skin of the steamed fish, the skin becomes slightly crispy. That is the final touch to make the dish perfect.
Steaming fish does not require much effort. In fact, the cooking process only took 12 minutes and the Teochew Steamed Fish was ready to be served. Personally, I definitely think this dish is great for Chinese New Year. During normal midweek dinners, this dish is perfect because it is complete with lots of vegetables besides the fresh fish. Just serve together with warm rice.