Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cooking With Dali - Braised Spicy Garlic Ginger Fish Head

I love fish head, steamed, stewed or curry ... there is this old shoplot on Jalan Pudu that serves a wicked version of spicy fish head. They use black bean sauce. I promised to uncover the dish and I think I have finally succeeded. Can open shop selling just one dish like them... lol. 

As this is my own recipe, a lot of it is agak-agak to get the right taste to suit yours, use your taste buds, but I think I have uncovered the basic ingredients.

I used two grouper heads for this, can ask your supermarket butcher to cut and clean for you.

You can use black bean sauce if you like, I chose Lee Kum Kee's Guilin Chilli Sauce for this dish.

The base looked ominous doesn't it. You know its going to be a kick ass dish. Cut up 3 red chillies, 3 green chillies. Use Bentong ginger, slightly less than palm sized, sliced up. Bentong ginger is almost like a fruit which you can eat plus it brings forth the very essence of ginger as well. Diced roughly 10 cloves of garlic (the whole thing is called a bulb, the segments are called cloves).

Some people will coat the fish head with corn flour and fry them first. DON'T DO THAT! It kills the natural taste of the fish. No frying for me, but I will marinate the fish head first by pounding two thumbs sized Bentong ginger till its mashed up, put in one tbs of soy sauce, two tbs of Shiao Hsing wine (yellow rice wine) and 1tbs of white pepper into the mix, mix well in the pestle and mortar. Squeeze the juices onto the fish and coat well, toss well. Put in fridge for at least one hour.

Since its home cooking I used grouper but almost any fish head will do. A trick is to get parts of the belly of a fish sliced up as well. The gelatinous parts are the best and works very well.

Use 6-8 tbs of good sesame oil into a hot wok. Drop in sliced ginger first, then the chillies, later the garlic - fry for 3-5 minutes.

Put in 6 tsp of Lee Kum Kee's Guilin Chilli Sauce into the mix and fry for two minutes.

Here are your arsenal for the base. Use them however you like to create your own broth. My version is 4 bowls (rice bowls size) of Chicken Broth (can get these from good supermarkets). 1 tbs of oyster sauce. 1/2 tbs of dark soy sauce. 1/3 bowl of same rice wine. Put all into the wok plus 3 tbs sugar. Taste the broth. You can tweak it till you are happy.

Put in the fish head, medium fire. You need to cook for 15 minutes. If you have fish belly, put that in only for the last 5 minutes. Stir to ensure even cooking but do that only once every 2 minutes. Parts of fish will break up but thats OK. Its a lot of fun to find bits of fish parts with chillies and ginger sauce to go with the rice.

To finish, you really need to thicken the broth with cornflour/water. I used 2 tbs of corn flour, can use more, the thicker the sauce the better. Wallah ... that with a bowl of hot piping rice, kick ass man.