Salted Fish Part 2

By KF Seetoh - Friday, Sep 23, 2011

Salted Fish is Love


Salted Fish Achar
Among the many culinary joys that arose from the unique and the intertwined blend of flavours between the Eurasians or Kristangs, and the Nonyas in Malacca, there arose Salted Fish Achar. Many recipes abound and some has Eurasian, while others have Nonya accents. But one thing is for sure- a dollop of the is sweet, sour, spicy, salty, softly crunchy and fiery Salted Fish Pickle over a bed of rice, is indescribable. It’s like a spicy and crispy salted fish marmalade firing up your mouth and seeking to be calmed with some sweet, soft and fragrant steamed rice inside. It is hard to find a jar of this for sale in Singapore and your best bet is to check out Mary’s Kafe at 1,Queen St or at Glory, at 139, East Coast Road. Better still, get it the many Eurasian or Nonya stalls in Malacca on your weekend jaunts there.


Fried Salted Fish with Lime and chilli
While having a cheerful beer session by some beer garden in Bangkok, the café owner, sensing we may be running out of conversation and stomach/bladder space after a ridiculously decadent bbq seafood meal, plonked a complementary platter of fried salted fish on our table. It appeared harmless and served as some sort of palate awakener. When he squeezed the lime over the salted fish (and I could feel my eyes squinting and mouth salivating in anticipation), we just had to bite into a piece. Whoa, what the sourness did to the already sharp,salty, thin and crispy fish was like someone hit the refresh or reset button in your system. Our eyes were agog, conversation topics refreshed and tired minds were sharpened. The cut bird eye chillis (nam prik) over it was like the extra goal at the end of extra time. It performed its intended goal for the café boss- made us order more beers with more cheers.


Claypot rice with salted fish and chicken
I think it is not some once in a while Haley’s comet phenomena that foodies always ask for or search down for those bits of salted fish in claypot rice-lLike heat seeking missiles locked onto a target. The overall goodness and allure of claypot rice – the flavoured soy and lard aldente grains, the overall smokiness, especially when lovingly done over charcoal fire, those smooth and soft bite sized pieces of chicken, the waxed meat and chinese sausages. But what really lifts all those sensations and take it to another level is a really the bits of salted fish stashed in the rice. It’s like flecks of alluvial gold found in the desert. Those cooks that don’t offer these salted sensations in their claypot rice, would not know what these anticipations can feel like. One of my fave spots to get this fix (and do ask for more salted fish) is at Lian He Ben Jin ( 02-199, Chinatown Food Centre at Smith Street).