Hawker Centre Style Fish Soup
What both Jamie and I miss most during this circuit breaker period is working in the office physically and going out for lunch with our colleagues. Even though we still communicate with our respective colleagues via online video conferencing platforms daily, the opportunity to bond and catch up with each other face-to-face is what we are missing. I am sharing a fish soup recipe because it is one of our lunchtime comfort food on a typical working day for both of us.
Fish soup is a healthy choice and yet hearty enough to make us feel satisfied. Aside from the known health benefits of fish, ginger and white peppercorns used in this recipe can help protect our respiratory system, which is extremely important during this period. What makes this fish soup special is that it does not contain any milk. The sweet and flavourful soup is made milky white and aromatic by frying the fish first before adding the dried anchovies and chicken feet broth. The process of making this dish so straightforward that even beginners can easily make.
2 litres of water
500 grams of chicken feet
50 grams of dried anchovies
2 tablespoons of white peppercorns
800 grams of whole fish to be cut in half (snapper, sea bass, grouper, mackerel can be used)
30 grams of sliced young ginger
150 grams of Shimeji mushrooms (or any types of mushrooms of your choice)
280 grams of Beijing Cabbage
1 slab of silken tofu (cut into 6 pieces)
2 whole tomatoes (quartered)
1 pc whole scallion (can be replaced with spring onion)
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine or Shaoxing Huatiao wine (optional)
Fry the white peppercorns in a pan without oil for 3 mins to bring out their fragrance. Use a pestle and mortar to crush the white peppercorns then set aside.
Blanch the chicken feet by adding them to a pot of cold water. Make sure the water is enough to cover the chicken feet and bring them to a boil over medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, cook for a further 5 minutes. Then rinse the chicken feet and discard the water.
In a pot, add 2 litres of water and the blanched chicken feet. Place the dried anchovies and crushed white peppercorns in a muslin bag and add the bag to the pot.
Bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Once it starts boiling, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. If you like your soup to have a stronger peppery taste, boil for an hour.
Heat up a wok with a suitable amount of oil over medium heat and fry the fish on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side until brown. To prevent the oil from splattering, pat the fish dry before frying. Refrain from moving the fish while frying until towards the end of the 3 to 4 minutes to avoid breaking its skin.
At the same time, add sliced ginger and fry it for a while without moving the fish.
Once the fish has browned on both sides, add the piping hot soup stock into the wok as well as the cabbage, mushrooms, scallion and silken tofu.
Boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add tomatoes, sugar, salt and Chinese cooking wine boil for another minute.
Turn the heat off and serve while it is hot.