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Salted fish goodness: how are they used in other food cultures?


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Salted fish goodness: how are they used in other food cultures?

K K | Sep 7, 2010 10:55 AM

In the world of Cantonese cooking, an old school salt preserved/sun dried fish (typically thread fin, along with two to three other kinds that I have difficulty finding the English name for) is a supreme flavoring agent (if not condiment) in cooking, typically called "hahm yu". Basically the fish is kept whole (belly is not sliced), guts and entrails removed delicately through the mouth using hooks, and sun dried with salt that's stuffed in the fish body and gills. Canto food fans will know of the steamed pork patty with salted fish (a comfort food classic), salted fish, chicken, and tofu clay pot (another great one), and variants like salted fish chicken and eggplant (with garlic) claypot (greasy but delicious as hell). Then there are aficionados who take a huge chunk of the salted fish, stir fry it, and just throw it over rice as if it it were cuicina povera.

In Portugal and Macau, the equivalent version is Bacalhau, which the Cantonese for some reason call it "Ma Ga Yau" which oddly sounds like "Macau". The deep fried bacalhau fish balls served at some restaurants in Macau look insanely good. The fish used is typically salted dried cod.

Aside from those two, what other world food cultures used salted fish as a main course, or a flavoring agent in cooking (and how are they enjoyed)? I know of Japanese aji no hiraki (salted dried horse mackeral) and understand some basically cook it up (how?), serve over rice, and of course other variants (including dried salted smelt).

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