Monday, January 24, 2011

Salt Fish Fried Rice

It was pointed out to me (by my mother) that I never update this blog anymore...a major release will do that to you. But...I need to write cooking notes down somewhere.

Salt fish fried rice is...freaking awesome. It's also an acquired taste. An epic discovery: Top Cafe is just down the street from Apple (should you be out there on business), open late, and does a mean salt fish fried rice.

Salt fish fried rice is one of those dishes that, like a gin and tonic, walks a fine line between culinary bliss and disaster. The salty fish should add a bit of tang to the whole dish and should come out and bite you when you get a piece, but it shouldn't be so overpowering that you can't taste anything afterward.

I have made the recipe twice for myself and I'm getting closer, but have been held up by the principle ingredient: haam yu (咸鱼). The first time I made the recipe I used Portuguese salt cod. To put it bluntly, that's the wrong kind of fish. The results are quite edible, but the salt cod has no tang because it hasn't been fermented.

The second time I went to my local Chinese grocery and did my best to explain what I wanted. Unfortunately they were all out of salt fish and sent me home with...well, I'm not really sure what it was. It was a piece of carp labeled "Grandma's food products" in Chinese. I'm not sure what was done to it. It was a lot closer than the salt cod, but didn't have adequately awesome killing power.

The recipe I made is this one, and it seems to work pretty well; the results were close enough for me to know what I was going for and to know that I was only off by the type of fish.

Salt fish (咸鱼 - literally "salty fish") is xian yu in Mandarin and haam yu in Cantonese, unless Lori is punking me. One of the problems with Googling such ingredients is that there appear to be Chinese pop stars and kung fu masters with the same name. I suggest that we rename Justin Beber to Justin Hamburger in retaliation.

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