Hed Chef: Steamed emperor red snapper head
Fish head curry is not the only way to enjoy this gelatinous part of the fish that is truly for fish lovers.
I ate steamed fish head some time back at a zi char stall that used an ang ko li fish head.
You could say it was love at first taste. I was taken by the simplicity and clean flavours of the dish.
I love fish head, and I have cooked it in various styles, but it had never occurred to me to steam it Teochew-style.
For this week's recipe, I went for my favourite snapper - emperor red snapper, which is known as ang sai in Hokkien. It is considered a premium fish.
I bought a 1.3kg ang sai fish head for $15. This is a reasonable price, considering you get an entire fish head for the amount.
When you eat out, a standard order at a zi char stall gets you only half a fish head, and you are not likely to get this premium choice of fish.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4 TO 6)
- 1 whole fish head (1.3kg before gills are removed), halved
- 1½ tsp of salt
- 2 tsp white rice vinegar
- 200g kiam chye (salted mustard greens), soaked for four hours and rinsed
- 1 tomato (140g), sectioned
- 1/8 tsp of sugar
- 1 umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 1 red finger chilli, halved and deseeded
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 10g spring onion
- 10g coriander
1. Rub one teaspoon of salt and the vinegar all over both halves of the fish head. Leave it for one minute then rinse the fish head. Set aside.
2. Separate the leaves of the salted mustard greens.
3. Take a heat-proof dish and arrange the salted mustard green leaves in a layer.
4. Rub the remaining salt all over both halves of the fish head.
5. Stack the two halves of the fish head on the salted mustard greens.
6. Place the tomato wedges around the fish head.
7. Sprinkle the sugar over the fish.
8. Tear the umeboshi into two and place it at the side of the fish head.
9. Smear the miso paste on the fish head and place the red chilli on top. Set aside.
10. Bring water to boil over high heat in a wok.
11. Steam fish head for 10 minutes.
12. Uncover and pour the Shaoxing wine over the fish head.
13. Steam for another two minutes. Remove from the wok.
14. Garnish with spring onion and coriander.
15. Serve immediately.
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