A few years ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Andrew Tjioe, the owner of a quirky upmarket restaurant in Singapore called My Humble House. Tjioe is the man behind the hugely successful Tung Lok group of restaurants, which includes the very chic Club Chinois (French-y Chinese cuisine), LingZhi (a very popular Chinese vegetarian chain), Lao Beijing (which specializes in noodles) and the eclectic My Humble House.
Ice fish:The Chilean sea bass has glacial texture and delicate flesh.
Over lunch, he mentioned that he wanted to take Chinese cuisine to another level of fantasy and experimentation. It was a risk that paid off and My Humble House now has branches in Tokyo and Beijing, and India as well. The chain is a Chinese fantasy come true — a real fusion of East meets West, fuchsia meets grey, only you get the best of both, not the worst, as with most “fusion” concepts. The food follows a similar pattern, with Chinese delicacies such as abalone and bailing mushrooms prepared with fine dining French ingredients such as foie gras. I was really impressed with the fish at My Humble House at the ITC Maurya Sheraton in Delhi — a simple filet of steamed sea bass with preserved vegetables. Simple as it looked and stunning as it tasted, Chilean sea bass is today a quiet buzzword among international gourmets. It is a fine, almost glacial textured, fish, with delicate tasting flesh. You usually get a sizeable filet since Chilean sea bass is actually not sea bass at all, but a gigantic, ugly-headed thing, better called the Patagonian tooth fish or ice fish. When it gained popularity on fine dining menus in the world’s top restaurants, fishing of the Chilean sea bass was banned for a while. It is back with a bang, and if you come across it on any menu, especially in a restaurant such as My Humble House that does complete justice to a fine fish like this, don’t think twice about ordering it.
This is a recipe of the dish I had at the New Delhi restaurant. Cod, or any firm white fish such as bekti or rawas can be substituted.
Steamed Cod with Chinese Preserved Vegetables
4 pieces Cod (or any flaky, lean white fish)
Chinese preserved vegetables
150g Chinese preserved vegetables (the sweet variety)
20g Honshemeji mushroom (diced small)
20g black fungus (soaked in water overnight and diced)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp light soy sauce
¼ tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp potato flour, dissolved in cold water or cornflour
½ cup stock
2 tbsp oil
Steamed fish sauce
1 tbsp light soya
Pinch of sugar
A few sprigs of fresh coriander
4-5 bulbs of spring onion
2” piece ginger, pounded
½ cup stock
1 tbsp dark soya
Method for making preserved vegetable topping:
Wash the Chinese vegetables and place in a strainer to drain the water. In a wok, heat some oil and stir fry the ginger and garlic. Increase the heat and add the Honshemeji mushroom and black fungus. Stir fry for a minutes, add the two soy sauces, oyster sauce and stock. Reduce the fire and add the potato or cornflour. Stir to thicken. Add in the chopped preserved vegetables and bring to a boil. Remove and cool. Once the mixture is cool, it will become thick and almost solidify.
Method for making the steamed fish sauce:
Bring to the boil all the ingredients mentioned for the sauce. Remove and strain to remove the coriander, ginger, etc.
Place the four pieces of fish on a plate. Once cooked, pour some steamed fish sauce over the fish and serve with the preserved vegetables.
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