When I was a kid, my daily breakfast was rice porridge without fail. I had this porridge breakfast until the day I left my house for university in Kuala Lumpur. No cakes, no breads or even steamed buns like bao. Deep fried banana fritters (pisang goreng) was an occasional treat.
In fact, even though I am not Teochew but a Zhaoan (Chawan), i loved porridges. I never have any complaint of eating porridge. Breakfast porridge set are very simple and usually is a one dish meal. When there are leftover meat or fish the night before, it would be recooked by my late mum and churn into another dish. If we were not satisfied with it, we would just drizzle with dark soya sauce and have a few peanuts. Red fermented bean curd or nam yu or even canned lettuces are common items to go with breakfast porridges.
Occasionally, fresh dishes were cooked to go with porridge. Rest be assured there will be no fresh meat dishes but very humble dishes mostly using eggs. One of them is the Chinese ah ma heritage dish onion omelette that i have already shared in this post: Classic Chinese Comfort Food– Onion Omelette (洋葱炒蛋）
Another dish is this dish that I am going to share : Anchovies onion. This dish was prepared during breakfast because both anchovies and onions are dried goods that are always stocked in the kitchen. Of course the dish is fast and it definitely goes well with porridges rather than white rice.
I have totally forgotten about this dish until my wife told me she craved for this dish. She is the one who asked me to blog this humble dish. She told me her aunties always prepared this “black” coloured dish and cooked the anchovies until very soft. We have a slight disagreement and I told her since I have never eaten her version, I can’t visualize what she is talking about.
Anchovies are already salty and why dark soya sauce are added? Is it not anchovies are attractive because they are crispy? Why theirs’ version is mushy? I told her I will cook my mum’s version and let her try.. After trying, she still insisted her black colour soft version taste better. I have done my best and i told she shall prepare this dish for the family in our next attempt and let me tried her version.
What I am trying to share with readers is this is a common dish. Every Chinese granny may have their very own version and what I am sharing is my own version. I knew some families put fermented black soya beans (豆豉） and but this was never used in my family. Therefore, feel free to adjust to one that your are familiar and this recipe shall be used as a reference or starting point.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 3-4 adult servings
- 100 grams of dried anchovies
- 2 onion
- 1 red chilli
- Dashes of white pepper
- Sugar to taste
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Slice the onion thinly and rinse the ikan billis to get rid of dirt. You can omit this step if you are confident about the cleanliness of the anchovies. For the anchovies, you can buy the already cleaned anchovies halves or you can buy the whole fish (which is much cheaper), tear off the head and deboned yourself.
- In a pot, heat up some cooking oil, stir fry the anchovies until golden brown and crispy using medium heat. Before dishing out, increase to high heat and deep fry for one minute to force out all trapped oil. Drain and set aside.
- Keep 1-2 tablespoons of oil, sauté the onion and red chilli until aromatic and the onion is soft, add the deep fried anchovies and give it a quick stir. Add the dashes of white pepper, pinches of sugar stir until well mixed. Off the heat and the dish is ready to be served with piping hot porridges.
Again, I need to blog this for records. It is because of the ultra simplicity of this dish that I think the dish worth capturing. It is also a way to appreciate what Chinese grannies had prepared that contributing to what we are today. Nobody shall looked down at such humble dish and it is definitely overboard to classify such dish as “Chinese heritage dishes”.
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