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Quick, comforting fish soup

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Eunice Quek on 28 Jul 2019

The Straits Times

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Housewife Wong Wai Yen's handy pressure cooker makes cooking convenient and mess-free, and her fish soup takes only an hour to make versus three hours on the stove

 

Like true-blue Singaporeans, Ms Wong Wai Yen and her family enjoy feasting on hawker food.

 

The bubbly housewife, 57, says: "While we love to eat hawker food, we also don't want to dine out too much. With my cooking, I can provide healthier options for my family."

 

So out comes her handy pressure cooker, which Ms Wong uses to make everything from sliced fish bee hoon soup to prawn noodles.

 

It is convenient and mess-free, says Ms Wong, and helps to save cooking time while retaining flavour.

 

Her pressure-cooked fish soup takes only an hour, versus three hours on the stove. For the dish, she uses snakehead, but red garoupa and other fish can be used as well.

 

The enoki mushrooms can also be substituted with shimeiji.

 

On its own, the soup is already delicious. But Ms Wong feels evaporated milk "gives it a different flavour dimension".

 

Do not skip the ginger wine though - it elevates the one-bowl wonder to another level as it perfumes the piping-hot soup.

 

While not the most healthy choice, she also suggests deep-frying the fish bones till golden brown, for an extra tasty pot of soup. The fish slices can also be cooked in an air fryer or coated with cornflour and deep-fried.

 

Ms Wong is a culinary force in the kitchen, whipping up dishes such as char siew with a kecap manis glaze, tom yam steamed fish, kong bak bao and nasi lemak.

 

She also makes chiffon cake and Nonya kueh with blue pea flowers from her garden.

 

Recipes picked up from her Hainanese mother-in-law include chicken rice and braised duck.

 

She likens cooking to a chemistry class and enjoys experimenting with different ingredients and flavours. It also helps, of course, that her lush garden grows kale, turmeric, kaffir limes, chilli padi and pandan leaves.

 

She and her husband, who is 56 and a senior manager at the National University of Singapore, have three daughters, aged 22 to 26.

 

The youngest, a foodie, helps to plate her dishes and posts pictures of them on Instagram.

 

She adds: "When you see happy faces and empty bowls, you feel very satisfied and motivated to cook."

 

SLICED FISH BEE HOON SOUP 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g snakehead, sliced and dried with kitchen towel
  • 1/2 tsp salt

 

FOR THE SOUP

  • 4 Tbs cooking oil
  • 500g snakehead bones, washed and dried with kitchen towel
  • 4 pieces of spring onions (white part only)
  • 3cm ginger, skin removed and thinly sliced
  • 3 pieces of coriander roots (washed)
  • 80g soya beans (soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes or until soft)
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, skin removed and halved
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 4 stalks of Chinese lettuce
  • 1 packet of enoki mushrooms or mushroom of choice
  • 600g fresh thick bee hoon
  • 1 to 2 Tbs salt
  • 4 Tbs fish sauce
  • 6 Tbs full cream evaporated milk (optional)

 

FOR THE GARNISH

  • 1 tomato, cut into eight wedges
  • Coriander leaves
  • Ginger wine to taste (from Chinese medical halls)
  • White pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 chilli padi, sliced
  • 20ml fish sauce
  • 20ml soya sauce

 

METHOD

 

1. Marinate the fish slices in salt and set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

 

2. To make the soup: Select "bake" mode on the pressure cooker. Pour cooking oil into the pot and add fish bones. Fry the bones for a few minutes until slightly brown.

 

3. Add all the other ingredients for the soup. Then change the mode to "chicken" and set to cook for one hour. After one hour, leave soup in the pot under "keep warm" mode, until ready to eat. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook the soup over the stove for two to three hours.

 

4. Bring another pot of water to a boil and blanch the Chinese lettuce, enoki mushroom and thick bee hoon. Set aside.

 

5. Strain the soup into another pot and discard ingredients in the strainer.

 

6. With a ladle, skim off the layer of oil at the top of the soup.

 

7. Bring soup to a boil and season with salt, fish sauce and evaporated milk.

 

8. Cook the fish slices for a few minutes in the soup and set aside.

 

9. To assemble: Place the bee hoon in a noodle strainer. Dip the bee hoon into the boiling soup several times before portioning into four bowls.

 

10. Divide the fish, Chinese lettuce, enoki mushroom, tomatoes and coriander leaves among the four bowls.

 

11. Scoop the hot soup into each bowl. Add a dash of ginger wine and white pepper to each bowl.

 

12. Divide the chilli padi among four saucers and add one part of fish sauce to one part of soya sauce.

 

13. Serve the fish bee hoon soup hot with the chilli dip.

 

Serves four

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

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