I wasn’t an easy teenager to bring up in the past. I used to really dislike it when my parents cook certain dishes at home for us to eat. Teochew fish porridge was one of those dishes in the list. I have always thought it boring and tasteless. But of course, I didn’t tell my father that.
As I grow older, I realised that these exact dishes that I used to dislike are the ones that I miss the most, especially after I moved out of the house to stay with the other one. These are the dishes that you can’t really find out of home, and even if there are any in the market or food centers, they are just not as nice as the ones that I used to eat at home. They just do not taste the same; they aren’t cooked with love.
Even while I try to replicate this dish at my own house all by myself, I must say, the taste of the soup is still different from what my dad and mum make with their magic fingers. Well, what can I say? Go home now and eat it for lunch already!
- Red snapper or mackerel: 400g, sliced
- Fish sauce: 1 tbsp + 3 tbsp + extra for chilli sauce
- Sesame oil: 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
- Corn starch: 1 tbsp
- Fish bones: 200g
- Preserved radish: 1 tbsp, soaked in water for 15 min, drained
- Water: 2 liters
- Cooked rice: 2.5 cups (about 2 cups of uncooked rice)
- Dried squid: 1/2 of body, cut into thin strips (optional)
- White pepper: to taste
- Coriander: 1 stalk, chopped
- Bird’s eye chilli: 3, thinly sliced
- Mix fish slices with 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil and corn starch. Leave to marinate overnight in fridge.
- To make fish broth, place fish bones, preserved radish and water in slow cooker to cook overnight on low heat.
- In the morning, switch to high heat to bring the broth to a boil. Add in rice, marinated fish slices and squid. Leave to boil for 10 min till fish is cooked.
- Add remaining seasoning (fish sauce, sesame oil, white pepper).
- Garnish with coriander. Serve hot with bird’s eye chilli in fish sauce.
- For added fragrance, drizzle some garlic oil onto the fish porridge to serve.
- The dried squid and preserved radish are optional ingredients, but these are what makes the fish porridge Teochew in nature and what my dad would refuse to do without.
- The fish slices in the pictures look a bit ‘crushed up’ as I had to really use my fingers to press and search for fish bones in order to make sure that none of the fish bones get into the little ones’ porridge!