Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Simple Batang Fish Stock Recipe (for soup)

The best bones to use for making fish broth is the red grouper bones! In fact, I don't even fry the bones. They go straight into the pot for boiling.

Given the simplicity in preparing a solid fish soup, sometimes I really don't understand why would folks queue and pay top dollar for fish soup. I've been experimenting with different styles of fish soup now and I can share with you that tweaking it to your own preference and taste is important. Below is a simple recipe to get started.
The reason why we usually season the batang fish in fish soup is that the texture is usually not firm enough and sometimes if not fresh might contain a "fishy" smell. My seasoning it, we can improve the texture and taste. Many of you will recognise this as "starchy" texture sort of like the texture you get in heavily seasoned prawns in siew mai.

Steps to create fish broth
  • Get about 500g of batang fish bones. Prepare a few pieces of ginger slices.
  • Pan fry the fish bones in 1 table spoon of oil together with the ginger slices to brown them.
  • Once they are brown, add about 2 litres of water and boil for 2 hours covered. Small simmering flame is enough.
  • This should yield you about 1.5 litres of broth but you add water and make it more diluted depending on your preferences.
  • This will work for other fish bones as well but if you are using red grouper bones, there is no need to brown the bones as there is generally no fishy smell.
  • You can continue boiling up to 3 to 4 hours if you desire a thicker fish broth that is "milky". Shops outside add milk to get this "milky" effect but there is really no need to if you have time.
  • You can also add different vegetables and condiments depending on your taste preference. You can add big yellow onions, garlic clove, fish sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil and so on.
  • I usually add a little salt and pepper with a some chinese wine at the end of cooking process.
  • You can add some prawn shells in if you want to make a seafood stock.
Steps to season the fish
  • Get a slab of batang fillet from the market. The meat should be a nice white colour. If the meat is too brown or bloody, it might not be that fresh. Always get fillets from bigger batang. The meat tends to be firmer.
  • Slice the fillet according to your own thickness preference and remember to remove the bones.
  • Mix a bowl of water with 1 table spoon salt, 1 tea spoon baking soda, 1 table spoon of corn flour. 
  • Add the batang slices into the mixture and season in fridge for about 2 to 3 hours.
  • Wash away the mixture before adding into boiling soup. Batang cooks in about a minute depending on thickeness.
  • Please note that the mixture is my personal preference. I prefer "not so bouncy" kind of texture as I like a little of the natural texture. So do adjust this depending on your preference. Baking soda and corn flour are the ones that tenderise/makes the meat bouncy. Salt draws out moisture from the fish meat. Some folks actually prefer using only salt.
  • You can use other kinds of fish bones for the soup base. I use red grouper bones alot which adds lots of sweetness to the broth.
  • You can use all kinds of fish for the fish slices. Generally, those with better texture like red grouper, cod and threadfin don't even need to be bathed in the salt mixture. Just add them in directly!
  • Fish bone broth is an excellent soup base for all kinds of seafood based dishes such as mixed seafood soup/broth, pao fan, risotto, yong tau foo and even lobster porridge! Feel free to get creative and apply to more dishes.
Here are a few creative dishes that I uses fish bone broth as a base:

Clean batang fish slice soup

Had some scallops and meatballs leftover from CNY

You can add crayfish too!

Add giant prawns!

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