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This on-going Covid-19 situation has certainly brought out some kitchen creativities in some of us, isn’t it? Not to be left behind, I think I’ve slightly outdone myself with this … Japanese style Saba Fish Rice Bowl, and here’s how you can make your own at home too.

I use a sous vide machine to prepare the fish, but grilling or pan fry will work almost just as well.

Japanese style rice bowl, with plenty of greens & reds
Japanese style rice bowl, with plenty of greens & reds

Without further nonsense, here’s the ingredients you need for this bowl, you can also certainly feel free to substitute certain items as you see fit, some of these are for optics more than tastes alone.

Ingredients for 2 bowls:

  • 2 pieces of saba fish fillet, frozen will work just as well
  • cherry tomatoes, half a dozen, cut in half
  • a handful of broccoli, cut into thin slices
  • fried garlic, 3-4 cloves
  • a stalk of spring onion, chopped
  • butter, 2 tablespoon
  • Japanese 7 spice powder
  • 1 cup rice (Japanese rice preferred)
  • optional – shiso leaf (I used sweet basil cos that’s what I had), and a tablespoon of fish roe

sous vide style saba fish
sous vide style saba fish, a torch is useful

Cooking instructions:

  • Sous vide fish fillet for 20 minutes at 50 Celsius (122F)
  • in the mean time, sauté garlic till crispy
  • then sauté tomato and broccoli with butter
  • once fish is done, slice into bite size, and use torch to score the skin
  • arrange everything on a bed of rice and then sprinkle on some 7 spice powder

I think this was one of the prettiest rice bowls I’ve ever assembled, was quite delicious to eat as well as it supposed to be somewhat of a healthy meal. I think this calls for me buying more frozen saba fish!

To be frank, I never did grow up with pork belly with salted fish dish, I supposed it was a dish that wasn’t particularly popular up north in Penang where I grew up, that or my family was not privy to the greatness of this combination during that time.

My first time having this was at Lucky Loke restaurant over a decade ago and been a fan ever since.

pork belly with salted fish
pork belly with salted fish

A few days ago, I finally recreated this dish in the kitchen, and it turned out to be pretty simple and rather delicious as well!

Here goes the recipe –

Ingredients:

  • Pork belly 300 gram, remove skin, marinate with equal portion (2 tablespoon) of cooking caramel, rice wine, and oyster sauce
  • 3-4 bulbs shallots, cut in quarters
  • 2 inch ginger, thin sliced
  • 6 dried cili, fresh cili (optional)
  • 3-4 clove of garlic
  • spring onion for garnish
  • 2 table spoon salted fish, cut in small chunks
  • 3-4 tablespoon cooking oil

it's a stirring and frying affair
it’s a stirring and frying affair

Cooking Instructions:

  • heat up pan, fry garlic and salted fish
  • add dried cili & shallots, fry till fragrant
  • add pork, medium heat, cook 5-10 mins depending on thickness
  • add fresh cili & spring onion last min

Result was fantastic and require no additional seasoning, now I just need to get me a small claypot to complete the look & feel properly instead of using a frying pan and serving bowl.

The funny thing about tastes is that for things that you absolutely loath as a kid may yet turn out to be one of your favorites as an adult – such is the case for me with bitter gourd, and to be frank, quite a few other items.

So for those of you who dislike durian, petai, asparagus, Guinness, and more, perhaps ya’ll just need more doses of them until you like it!

bitter gourd tofu soup recipe

Anyway, here’s one of the recipes I did with bitter gourd over the course of this Covid-19 season.

Bitter Gourd Tofu and Pork Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 bitter gourd, cut in chunks
  • 3 carrots
  • 300 gram pork belly, cut into bit size chunks
  • 1 block of soft tofu
  • 2 tomato
  • 1 inch ginger
  • a handful of salted vege (optional, you can replace with salt to taste)

Instructions:

  • boil pork belly for a couple minutes and remove from pot, throw away the scummy water
  • use a bigger pot, boil 4-5 bowls of water with everything except tofu for about an hour or so in low heat
  • add tofu just before serving
  • salt (optional) and pepper to taste

Comfort food especially on rainy days, I usually have it with steamed rice and some soya sauce + cili padi as condiment.

When I was young, we made it a point to have a soup dish in every meal, in retrospect, I guess that’s a great way to have kids having enough liquid in our diet?

Anyway,  I remember that one of my favorites of such soup dishes were the salted fish bone tofu and pork soup.  So when I was at Kota Kinabalu not too long ago, I made it a point to get myself some good quality whole kurau salted fish that includes the boney bits.

So here’s the recipe I got from mom.

salted fish bone tofu

Ingredients:

  • salted fish bone (preferably ikan kurau)
  • a bulb of garlic, peeled
  • an inch of ginger, sliced
  • spring onion, cut into 2 inches length
  • pork slices, 300-500 gram
  • tofu, 2 blocks
  • 2 liter of water
  • 4-5 tablespoon cooking oil

Instructions:

  • soak fish bone for half an hour
  • fry garlic, ginger and fish bone till fragrant
  • add pork slices and brown the exterior
  • add water and bring to boil for at least half hour
  • add tofu for the last minute, add spring onion too

Comfort food for rainy days for sure!

When I was young, mom always made sure that there’ll be one soup dish in every meal. Usually it’s something like.. 1 meat, 1 vege, 1 soup, balanced diet, like it should be.

One of the easiest and fastest soup to cook would be bayam, a vegetable that can be obtained rather cheaply here in Malaysia. So here goes my simple recipe of the day – bayam soup with ikan bilis.

bayam soup homecooked

Ingredients:

  • a handful of ikan bilis  (dried anchovies)
  • a few bulb of garlic
  • some wolf-berry
  • bayam vegetable
  • 1.5 liter of water

Instructions:

  • Boil ikan bilis + garlic + wolf berry for 30 minutes
  • Add bayam for 1 minute
  • Add salt to taste, maybe some pepper
  • Ready to serve,  additionally you can also stir and egg or two prior to serving for extra protein

There are some recipes calling for discarding the anchovies, but I believe in not wasting perfectly fine food, especially since I bought these from Kota Kinabalu’s Filipino market, which is of pretty decent quality.

Check out more simple recipe here.