Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Recipe: Julia's Kiam Chye Fish Stir-fry

Kiam chye, which is salted mustard green, is a kind of preserved vegetable predominantly featured in Teochew cooking. Because it is salty and crunchy, it goes well with plain Teochew porridge. When used in cooking, it gives a lovely, savoury flavor with a light tang. But do soak the kiam chye in water for at least 1/2 hour (depending on how salty it is) before adding it to your dishes, otherwise its saltiness may be too overpowering.

The following is a twist on my mother's recipe. She used to stir-fry fish with just ginger strips and sliced kiam chye. I like the way that the ginger and kiam chye can completely mask any fishy smell, yet still bring out the natural sweetness of the fish. The kiam chye also subtly imparts a salty and tangy taste, producing a flavorful gravy. This dish is very appetising and pairs excellently with rice or plain porridge.

I decided to up the aroma quotient by adding salted black beans, give the flavor more body with abalone sauce, and add a bit of kick and color with red chillies. Here's my Kiam Chye Fish Stir-fry recipe.

approx. 800 grams of firm-fleshed white fish fillet, sliced
approx. 2 large leaves of kiam chye, sliced and soaked for an hour
2 tablespoons salted black beans
2 red chillies, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
thin ginger strips
2 tablespoons of abalone sauce
1 cup of water
cornstarch, mixed with water

1. Have all the ingredients ready. Heat up some oil in the wok. The wok must be very hot for a quick stir-fry and to seal in the flavors.

2. When the oil smokes slightly, add the ginger, garlic, black beans, and chilli. Quickly stir-fry non-stop for 30 seconds.

3. Add the kiam chye and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. You should be able to smell an intense, savoury aroma by now.

4. Put the fish slices in. Add the abalone sauce. Stir-fry to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

5. Pour the water in. When the gravy simmers, thicken slightly with the cornstarch solution.



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