Chef’s Secrets: Learn How To Cook This Plate Of Traditional Teochew Steamed Mullet

Cookbook author and food writer Sylvia Tan shares her recipe's secrets and cooking tips

Teochew Steamed Mullet With Tau Cheo And Green Lime, Chilli & Garlic Dips

(Photo: Kua Chee Siong/The Straits Times)

This is an old Teochew recipe, using a fish that is not always found in the market.

It is the grey mullet, or “oh her” in Teochew, which is traditionally steamed and eaten with a piquant tau cheo or salted soya bean dip.

What is unusual is that this mullet is served chilled after being cooked with its scales on. I do this too with sea bass, which I roast with its scales on, to protect its delicate flesh; I do the same with ikan terubok or shad, that other hard-to- find and richly flavoured fish.

I like cooking fish with its scales on. Apart from the convenience, the scales protect the fish during the cooking. You need not worry about it being dried out – the scales act like a foil wrap, leaving the flesh within moist and sweet.