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I made a trip to the traditional Cantonese Chinese sundry shop selling dried foodstuffs today and decide to snap a photo of all the stuffs I bought. Ellena has asked me about the dried fish fillet, so here is the photo of it.
First off, this is the dried oyster. There are several grades and the prices range greatly. The one shown above is RM80 per kilogramme. I normally buy only RM10 ‘cos as you know, it is not very healthy to eat too much of these dried, preserved, salted (sometimes) seafoods as they are one of the reason why Chinese have more nose, throat and mouth cancers. However, an oyster or two put into certain dishes like porridge, stewed pork, flavour rich soup and steamed glutinous rice will be heavenly.
This is the fish fillet that I normally used in stir fry vegetables. The price is RM70 per kilogramme too. And of course, 100 grams is more than enough because these are very light. One can deep fry it and pound or what I did was to pop into the microwave and grill it till crispy. Sprinkle it on vegetables or tofu dish for that extra delicous taste. For a normal plate of veggie, one needs just half a fillet. The shop uncle told me not to wash or wet it, just throw it straight into the hot oil or the fish won’t be crispy.
Do not mistaken another type of dried fish, called ‘wood fish’ (ikan kayu) which is much cheaper. The ‘wood fish’ is bigger and thicker and only suitable for cooking porridge. Both of these dried fishes are NOT salty like salted fish.
This is the dried shrimps or hairbee. Again, dried shrimps have several grades and some are exhorbitantly priced like the above. There are local dried shrimps which are more expensive than those from Thailand. The shopowner explained that local Malaysian varieties are better because there are less preservatives and salt. Normally, for these expensive grade, I will use them sparingly in stir frying foods whilst the cheaper varieties are used for sambal hairbee. To know if the shrimps are good, give a sniff. It should not be pungent or smells like wet socks. Ewwss….The outer appearance should look a healthy, oily pinkish colour and not covered with white specks (could be salt or mould).
Before I forget, I must remind Chinese parents not to flavour their babies porridges with any dried seafood, not even dried scallops or dried anchovies. I know that many grandparents love to prepare porridge with dried scallops but this is not a healthy choice. Firstly, these seafoods have been preserved for too long with unknown chemicals (if any), secondly, they are full of salt and (maybe) moulds and thirdly, do not spoil a kid’s taste buds with strong flavours. Seafood also may cause allergies and are not suitable for babies below one year old.
For anchovies, I did prepare some for my toddler because it is full of calcium. However, what I did was to soak the anchovies in water till it is no longer salty. Then, I dry it in the microwave and roast it till crispy. After that, I pounded (or use a grinder) the dried fish till it turn powdery. Remember to use the bones too.