May 22, 2010

Foochow Salt Fish Monger

When we are spoilt for fresh food from the farms nearby and the supermarkets we easily forget the salt fish monger and what he can offer.

And muang ngii is a salted fish many people have forgotten. Some even call it a thing of the past because of health reasons. But then I feel that once in a while we must taste the food of our forefathers in order to remember our roots.

This is the famous Foochow delicacy - salted muang ngii or salted eel. (smoked unagi is a Japanese favourite)

Here's the Miri salt fish monger (one of the few men) who shows me a portion of a very long salted eel.

This is the skin side. Hope you can recognise the fish (fresh or salted)

Salted mustard green - a staple soup ingredient for the Foochows.

Kong Chai (literally jar vegetable) salted mustard greens/cabbage

Salted jelly fish - we Foochows like to eat this at least once a month. It is often served as an appetizer at banquets. The Thais love it in their salad!!

My comfort zone will always include my personal salt fish monger who will tell you tales of the old days and the problems of the present day. He could be the friend you need most on wet days or the wet season!! (when no vegetables can grace your table and no fresh see food can be bought - you will have to devise good meals with his expert guidance e.g. toufoo with salt fish and kiam chye with some meat and of course salted muang ngii or eel bones with winter melon or old cucumber.)

P/s Making the salted fish bone stock : you must always soak the muang ngii bones for at least a whole morning before using them for soup to get rid of the saltiness. And then boil the bones in  water for a short while. through away that first water and then start boiling again until the flesh can come off the bones. Then it is time to throw in your vegetables for the soup. Cheers.

This post is dedicated to all the friendly salt fish mongers in my life - whether in Sibu or Miri!! Thanks!


Ann said...

I never liked GIAM Hu even as a kid. We planted our own vegs and had lots of eggs. Once my mum made salted duck eggs.

The husband doesn't like chemicals in food preservation, so we hardly eat them.

I do miss the chewy Sarawak jelly fish. We used to eat them with shallots, garlic, sour plum, sugar, soya sauce, Those in Singapore is different.

Ah Ngao said...

i like the "Long Kiam Hu".i bought a small piece(about an inch size) at the Satok market just now.hehheh...once you fry them,the whole kampung knows about it,becoz of the "nice" smell wafting from door to doors.once a while it's okey lah,gives yourselves "off-day" ma...

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, 2 of my favourites are salted fish....but will take a pass on the ones you have here. Not too keen on eels.
I love the ones from Kuantan, as well the padi field ones....
and hum choy tong is what I love, with pai kuat.

We too get a wide variety of salted fish here....from the Caribbean Islands, to Vietnam, Thailand, China, HK....but regret none from Malaysia.
I bet you must be a Black belt in cooking too....
Have a pleasant weekend, Lee.

Puan Isah said...

My children loves that 'salted mustard green' & 'kong chai'if I cook either of them with beef and into soup. And I love those salted jelly fish made into 'umai'!
I didn't know you often eat salted jelly fish :)
Thank you for sharing!

p/s. I am following you now, please follow me?

The Observer said...

the photos are wonderful. All the presevered vegetables and fish look nice and well presented at the stall. Seeing all this makes me think of the filling rice porridge and condiments my mother and us kids use to have together. Not that mother was lazy to cook but it was a good way to to reflect. "Poor man's food" mother's friend used to say.

What are your thoughts on porridge and the condiments? I think it's humbling and i think you'd agree too :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann
A few years ago there was this horrible news about preserved food and especially about the preserved food from China - so I can understand your hubby's policy. Fresh food is always best.
there are many different kinds of preseved jelly fish. I especially like the white ones.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
Once in a while eat kiam hu...not every day chicken chicken chicken....I like one way of preparing salted fish - vinegared fried salted fish with lots of Thai spices and chillies.

Yeah overseas you can get sued!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Uncle Lee
Hum choi tong is really a comfort food. That never disappoints any one!Malaysian salted ikan kurau from Penang is very bones...
I will accept the green belt for cooking. Thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Puan Isah
Just a do you get your halal salted mustard green?
Can you buy the salted fish from Chinese wet market?
I will follow your blog soon.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Observer
Thanks for the compliments.
Porridge and its condiments were often eaten in between the festival meals in China. Perhaps this kind of diet made the Chinese very slim and nice looking in the past. The pot bellied men and women came as a result of modern eating.
Throughout the ancient days our Chinese ancestors ate sparingly and ate well only during festivals. So it was like four grand meals every for every change of season....and in between very simple meals with seasonal fruits and vegetables and in winter preserved condiments. This way of eating also gave the organs time to relax and detox.

It is really quite sensible.

Puan Isah said...

I usually buy the packed ones in the supermarkets. Yes I can buy the salted fish from chinese wet market. It is not a problem for me :)

Yes do follow me :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi...nice to know that...I remember in olden days the salted fish mongers in Sibu were popular with every racial group.

Anonymous said...

hi, would like to know where i can buy salted fish in miri? which market would you recommend?

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