Text and Images by Sheere Ng @ Makansutra
In the first part of this series we taught you how to knife a pomfret and use it to make Teochew Steam Fish. This time round we’ll challenge you to fillet a snapper for a pumpkin porridge that is not only tasty but also auspicious in appearance. Most importantly, it is healthy, which is a rare pleasure during the Chinese New Year period.
Fish in Pumpkin Porridge
Fish in Pumpkin Porridge is a hearty treat.
Ingredients (for 4 persons)
1 snapper, fillet and sliced
Half a small size pumpkin, skin removed and chopped into small wedges.
1 ½ cups of rice, washed
1.2 litre of water
1 to 2 pork leg or marrow bone (5oograms)
1.6 litre of water
Salt to taste
Coriander, chopped (optional)
For fried garlic seasoning:
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp cooking oil
3 tbsp sesame oil
To choose the fish: Make sure the eyes are clear, not cloudy. Carefully press on the stomach (at the bottom end of the fish), make sure it’s firm. The surface of the fish should be slimy. Such texture will disappear if the fish is out from the sea for a long time.
To clean the fish (caution: If you are not adept with the knife, ask your fishmonger to do this for you).
Step 1: Cut the fin on the top and bottom of the fish with a pair of scissors.
Step 2: Holding on to the fin (beside the gill cover), scale the fish from head to tail and under the belly. Repeat this step on the other side.
Step 2Step 3: Chop off the head up to 2 inches from the gill cover (towards the tail).
Step 4: Cut a deep slit along the gills. From there, wield the knife down to the bottom, where the stomach is, and cut a 1½ inch slit. Remove the gills, the organs and blood clot from the head.
Step 5: Half the fish head from the belly, the back, to the tip of its mouth. Freeze it for other use (such as curry fish head).
Step 5Cut the head into half.
Step 6: Remove the organs and blood clot from the body. You might even find undigested fish inside the stomach (see picture)!Step 6
Step 7: From the stomach of the fish, above the bone, slice off the top half of the body. Flip to the other side and repeat the previous step.
Note: Fish bones make very nice stock so remove the tail from the bone and chop the rest into pieces, about 2 inch-long. Freeze it for future use.
Step 8: Slice the fish for this recipe.
Boil 1.6 litre of water in a pot over high heat. Drop the pork bone into the boiling water. Allow it to boil another 15 minutes and after that, turn down the fire to low heat and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the pumpkin into the pot and allow it boil for about 15 minutes, or until the pumpkin has soften.
In another pot, add rice, 1.2 litre of water and ½ tbsp of sesame oil and then place it over high heat to cook the porridge. Once the grains soften, or about 15 minutes later, turn off the fire and set it aside.
Back to the stock, use a fork and spoon to mash the pumpkin and return it to the stock. Add the puffed up porridge into the stock and stir well.
Bring in the fish, allow it to cook for another one minute and turn off the fire.
To prepare the fried garlic seasoning, heat up the oil and stir-fry the chopped garlic. Once a few starts turning brown, turn off the heat but continue to stir. The remaining heat of the oil will continue to cook the garlic but not burn it. Once all are brown and crispy, transfer the garlic into a bowl and add the sesame oil and stir. Set it aside.
Sprinkle some coriander and fried garlic over the porridge and it’s ready to be served.