November 15, 2014

Steamed Sun Dried Dace 蒸臘鯪魚

Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德
By Published: 2014-11-15
The fact is is that Hong Kong is an island, though sometimes this is easily forgotten living inside of Hong Kong's massive, soaring concrete jungle of a city.  And because of this island history there is a strong tradition of fishery, seafood, and also, to many a food lover's delight, a diverse and rich local history of many ways of preserving, preparing and eating that seafood.  

We love the super fresh and happening seafood we get at the wet market in Hong Kong and have posted many recipes of our favorite fresh and preserved seafood dishes.  

Today I want to introduce you to an amazing southern Chinese speciality, the Sun Dried Dace, or 臘鯪魚.  This sun preserved fish, also know as Mud Carp, is nowadays rarely to be seen, but we found some the other day at the market at one of our favorite stalls and snapped it up quick as a flash!  
Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp,, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德
Our friendly shop lady holding up two massive specimens of Sun Dried Mud Carp

My 老公 really loves the Dace, it's a favorite fish in his hometown of Shunde, Guangdong, or 順德, which is known amongst the Chinese as the source of some of the best cooks and cuisine in all of China.  This fresh water Dace fish is a quandary of a fish, a really deliciously sweet and tender fish but boy, oh boy does this fish have a motherlode of bones!  

In times of old, the kitchens in Shunde would be busy all day long with nimble hands plucking the numerous thin bones from fish flesh.  Nowadays the fish meat and bones are pulverized in food processors and probably used most often to make the delectable Deep Fried Dace Balls (yum, yum!) that are always served in noodle shops.  

Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp,, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德

This Sun Dried Dace is so rare nowadays that we couldn't buy it at all last year!  These wild caught fresh water fish are carefully marinated in soy, dark soy, rice wine and sugar and then sun dried to yummilicious perfection.  

The wet market shop lady where we usually buy from told us that their supplier decided that he had made enough money selling his dried fishes (a lot apparently) and thus retired.  To our joy this year, we recently spied these lovelies hanging from her stall!  Apparently this old lady and her husband (they run the tiny shop together, the two of them) managed to source some other supplier after a year of searching.  Yay!  

To let you know the kind of demand amongst local food lovers for these fishes, this batch had been at their stall for one and half day only and was already half sold out!  And they're not cheap either, going from HKD 80-HKD300 for a fish.

Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp,, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德
Mud Carp or Dace

You can ask your vendor to chop into serving sizes for you.  We've been experimenting how best to keep the Sun Dried Dace at home since you can't eat it all in one go.  You don't want it to have condensation but also don't want it to get too dried out either, so we have it wrapped in a plastic bag at room temperature with a small hole in the bag for breathing.  (Update: After further consultation with our friendly shop lady, we were advised to keep it wrapped up tight in the freezer.)

Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp,, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德

The Sun Dried Dace is meant for steaming and is easy to prepare.  And the taste is simply out of this world!  And this is of course the reason people scour the markets, waiting and watching for this seasonal treat.  The renowned sweet and tender meat of the Dace is intensified and concentrated by the sun drying process.

Once steamed with a bit of tangerine peel and rice wine, the resulting fish meat, delightfully rosy pink and yellow, is WOW!  Tenderly chewy, oh so sea sweet, and gently infused with hints of the tangerine and wine.  Soooo yummilicious!  It very uniquely doesn't taste like anything else I've ever had!  Which of course is a fabulous reason why you must, must, must try it if you get a chance!  Hurry and get your own lovely Sun Dried Dace before the season ends!

Psst...want to sun dry your own dace fish?  Check out our post on Chinese Winter Sun Dried Salted Fish 臘鯪魚 to make your own!

Steamed, Sun Dried, Mud Carp,, Dace, fish, chinese, recipe,  蒸, 臘, 鯪魚, preserved fish, 順德
Steamed Sun Dried Dace Recipe  蒸臘鯪魚
(Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time: 10 mins)



Soak dried tangerine peel in a bit of room temperature water for 5-10 minutes or until soft enough to thinly slice to slivers.  Rinse and dry the Sun Dried Dace and then marinate with the oil, wine and sugar for 5 minutes.  

Put fish and marinade into serving dish, sprinkle tangerine peel slivers evenly over the fish and steam in bamboo steamer over high heat for 10 minutes.  Serve hot and watch out for those bones!

Preserved Goodies at The Hong Kong Cookery:

chinese salted fish, cantonese, classic, salted white herring, 曹白咸魚Chinese Pan Fried Salted White Herring Fish 香煎曹白咸魚

bottarga, chinese, Cured, dried, fish roe, homemade, how to, karasumi, recipe, salt preserved, salted, 自製, 魚子幹Homemade Dried Salted Cured Fish Roe 自製魚子幹

air dry, chinese, fish, how to, salt, preserved, recipe, sun dried, winter, 臘鯪魚, 鯪魚乾Chinese Winter Sun Dried Fish 臘鯪魚


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