Lineage Food Diaries: Cold Salted Fish with Puning Soybean Sauce

It all started with a view of the ocean as it lapped into the shore where our founder Shuobi Wu calls home. The picturesque colours of the calming mist overlapping the crystal-blue waters as they bled into the rolling hills in the background became the muse for Lineage Ceramics’ newest line - The Blue Collection. To celebrate the launch of our new glaze, Marine Blue, Shuobi is excited to share one of his favourite fish recipes from his childhood that helped spark inspiration for this collection — Cold Salted Fish.

I was born and raised in Teoswa, China, a small town in the province of Guangdong. Here, we frequently enjoyed many dishes that included freshly caught fish. In fact, if we didn’t have fish for dinner — we wondered why! 

As a partial canal town, the abundance of river and ocean fish is a blessing to the local farmers and Cold Salted Fish (“鱼饭”) is a very common and local dish in Teoswa— the name itself actually translates to “fish as rice.” Eating and storing fish for everyday needs has been the way of life for centuries for this old town - hence the birth of this simple yet delicious dish!

The most common way to prepare this dish is to pair it with Puning Soybean Sauce, or as some may call it “the Teochew miso.” Puning Soybean Sauce is to the Teochew people as miso is to the Japanese. With over 10 steps to the fermentation process, this sauce has a natural salty and savoury flavouring with just a hint of sweetness — perfect for elevating your seafood dishes. 

Making Cold Salted Fish is quite simple and delicious — we highly recommend you try it out at home. Here’s one of my favourite recipes below that creates a delicious meal for two!

Ingredients

  • Two whole fish — we recommend Mackerel, because of its ideal combination of thick scales and sweeter flavour profile.
  • Plenty of coarse sea salt.
  • Puning soybean sauce — available at a local Asian grocery store or alternatively, Vietnamese Peanut Sauce or Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce will do the trick.

That’s right, the simplest ingredient list you will ever see! Note that the vast amount of salt used is to help with the marinating process and will mostly stay on the fish skin.

Kitchenware Items 

  • A large boiling pot — preferably large enough to fit the whole fish and not too tall.
  • A strainer or filter basket — this will hold the fish as it boils in your pot. The most traditional way is to use a bamboo woven basket.


Instructions

Step 1 (Preparation)

Clean the outside of the fish with water thoroughly. Pat dry, place in your filter basket and evenly cover the fish with coarse sea salt. If you bought more than two fish, it’s a good idea to place them on your basket and layer them head to tail, in a triangle or square.

Note: You don’t need to descale or gut your fish.

Fish in baskets at market

Step 2a (Boil)

If you’re making more than two fish, we recommend boiling it. Bring a pot of water to boil with 2 teaspoons of salt per fish, make sure you have enough water to cover the fish entirely. Once the water is boiling, bring it to low heat so when you cook the fish the boiling doesn't move the fish too much. 

Cover the fish tightly with a smaller lid so it doesn’t move, and place the fish basket into the pot entirely. Cook for 15 minutes.

Step 2b (Steam)

If you’re making less than four fish, we recommend steaming it. For this step, you’ll need to thoroughly wash away the salt that you marinated the fish scales with under cold water before placing the fish carefully into your steamer basket.

Add some water to your steamer, bring to a boil and then place your basket into the steamer. Close the lid and let it steam for 15 minutes.

Step 3 (Cool)

Once cooked, take the whole basket out. If you chose to boil the fish, clean the basket by rinsing it with the cooking water. Then, place the entire basket in a cool, dry area till it cools down (about 1-1.5 hours). Now the skin and scales can be removed easily. 

Enjoy Cold Salted Fish with your favourite seafood dipping sauce!

Step 4 (Optional)

Place your fish into the fridge with a cover and try it after 6 hours for better results.

To add the final touch, plate your Cold Salted Fish on our brand new Marine Blue Entrèe Plates — part of the release of our Blue Collection.

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