Friday, August 14, 2009
My mum told me that salted fish used to be a poor man's food. Fish preserved with salt was food that families could keep for a long time without refrigeration. As a kid, she ate salted fish that had been fried, with plain rice, and a sprinkle of sweet soy sauce, for a meal. Then she had her own family. She would cook chicken, or beef and vegetables for us, but sometimes, she would have a little fried salted fish on the side. She and my dad would eat that with other dishes. I was always invited to try, but I would just wrinkle my nose and shake my head. To me, salted fish was not a poor man's food but rather, it was old people's food. Of course, my parents were barely in their forties at that time.
I have finally acquired the taste for salted fish. I suppose it means I am in the "old people" category now. My preferred way of eating the salted fish is in fried rice. In this recipe for Dish #6, I use brown basmati rice because we are eating more of that at home. This dish is usually cooked with chicken pieces - I substituted that with tofu to cut the saltiness. I also added vegetable broth because I like my fried rice moist. I served the fried rice with my mum's sambal belacan but you can use any chili or sambal you have e.g. Sriracha or sambal oelek.
Salted fish fried rice with brown rice
3 cups of day old brown rice
2 oz salted fish, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 oz snow peas, sliced ½ inch
6 oz baked tofu or any dense tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch ginger, minced
a few sprigs of cilantro
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
3 tablespoons oil
a few drops of sesame oil
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok to medium heat and fry the eggs (scrambled). Remove eggs and heat 2 tablespoon of oil.
2. Fry the garlic, keeping heat at medium or slightly lower so that the garlic does not burn. Add the ginger and continue frying until fragrant or about 1 minute. Put in the salted fish, tofu and snow peas. Fry for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the rice and fried eggs, mixing all the ingredients together. Pour in the fish sauce and vegetable broth. Stir well. Then sprinkle in the white pepper followed by the sesame oil. Stir again.
4. To serve, scoop the rice into two bowls and put a few cilantro leaves on each bowl. Sambal is optional.