Let’s be frank here, the best part about Teochew-Style steamed fish isn’t the fancy pomfret laying regally on the steaming platter. The thing that keeps us coming (or dipping) back for more is the resulting liquid/juices that pool around the fish during the steaming process, having been steeped with the punchy ingredients that make up Teochew Steamed Fish.
The sour plums, preserved cabbage and tomatoes add varying nuances of acidity, the dried mushroom soaking liquid is an instant umami boost, while the ginger and chillies provide heat and pairs superbly with fish. This hot and sour combination is always a winner and I've got three amazing Tom Yum Soup recipes (all vastly different, ranging from creamy and red hued to clear and pristine) in Book Two, which has just been released (June 2020).
So I've taken the best part, which is the aforementioned liquid, and amplified its star power by giving it the leading role it deserves in this dish. Shine bright, my fish liquid. Served with silky, somen noodles and marinated seafood to slurp up all that flavourful broth with. You're welcome. Go make this.
Steps to make this up on Around the Dining Table's ig stories highlights if you're more a visual person. If you like your instructions in words, read on...
For the prep work: soak 4 dried mushrooms in some warm liquid for them to soften. Reserve the liquid too cause you'll be using this as part of your stock. You'll want to prep some ginger slices as well - just thinly julienned. When the mushrooms have softened, slice them all up. Set them aside along with one tomato, cut into chunks. Some preserved cabbage, just simply rinsed and sliced into strips (about 30 to 40g) and 2 to 3 preserved plums or umeboshi.
For the stock: You can use a mixture of chicken/pork/fish stock - whatever you have on hand. I used the frozen chicken stock I had stashed away in the freezer, 500 ml worth. You'll also be topping this up with the mushroom soaking liquid. To add more flavour into the broth, I fry up about 2 to 3 Tablespoons of anchovies until they're toasty and golden, and add them into the broth to simmer. If you don't have stock on hand, feel free to use a dashi tea bag for instant flavour without any effort on your part.
In your large stockpot, gently fry up your mushroom and ginger slices until they smell fragrant. Add in your stock, mushroom liquid and anchovies. Then add in your preserved cabbage and sour plums, let all those flavours infuse over low heat, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
While that's going on, prep your toppings. You can add fish slices and/or prawns. I just chunk up some grouper and marinate them in sesame oil, ground white pepper, light soy and a touch of chinese wine. Just let them all hang out as you get along with the rest of the dish.
Right before serving, cook up some noodles of choice - I used super thin and silky somen noodles reminiscent of mee sua. Also, check your soup for seasoning. All the pickles add a sour/salty note and you may not even need to add any salting agent... So just check and adjust to your liking! Now's the time for your tomato chunks and all your marinated seafood have their turn in the soup. When the seafood is just cooked, switch off the heat and plate. D
Now, time to combine them into one whole - soup and noodles... And enjoy your teochew style steamed fish noodle soup!