This quintessential dish for folks in Sitiawan is much celebrated and loved and my husband is no exception. A friend from the same hometown posted a picture of the ko ro she cooked up in FB and I managed to get in contact with her to obtain the recipe. She gave me the ingredients and the necessary prep methods, but other than that I pretty much winged it. I didn’t have very high expectations of how it might turn out, meaning I don’t expect it to be in the same level as how they prepare it in restaurants. But I decided to give it a go anyway because it would really make hubster so happy.
Although currently they do sell fish maw here, being it’s so close to CNY and all, we got these (below) from Sitiawan itself, and they do look very different from the longish types Jusco is selling. They’re dried and hard. Which is why you have to prep them accordingly before going in to the dish. Fish maw is definitely not cheap but bear in mind you don’t need many pieces to make a huge portion. Ko ro is eaten on all the special occasions, Chinese New Year, weddings, birthdays and full-moon. It’s just a treat we look forward to. I made this dish over the Christmas period and instead of having one Sitiawan taste bud to critique my cooking, I had TWO….my SIL was here in M’sia for the long hols. Their verdict? Pretty damn close to the real thing. And hubster is beaming from ear to ear knowing wifey can make his childhood dish. Now he can have it anytime without travelling back.
We also got a 1/2 dozen of these garlic chilli sauce (below), I think it’s much cheaper there and I also think you can’t make the dish with any other types of chilli sauce. They are bound together so expertly by cheap twines and rather convenient and sturdy to carry it around.
Since this is rather an extensive post, I’ll get right to the methods of prep. First the fish maw;
Next is the hefty list of ingredients;
First row; chopped garlic and ginger, sliced shitakes and black fungus,
fresh bamboo shoot, sliced pork
Second row; sliced fish maw, garlic chilli sauce and tomato sauce, white pepper,
cornstarch and vinegar, beaten eggs
My MIL would’ve been proud. Wish I could have known this recipe sooner and made it for her. I will say this though and not in a condescending spirit, the dish is not much to look at, appearance-wise, as with many other dishes from Sitiawan…but it does not lack anywhere where bold tastes is concerned. And in a good way, that is the charm of the dish. It is exteriorly humble but it has such explosion of flavours that keeps people travelling back from wherever they are for more. I say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
FISH MAW SOUP FOOCHOW STYLE RECIPE
Fish maw, about 3 pieces, prepped as instructed
Pork, sliced or minced
Shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
Black fungus mushrooms, soaked and cut to smaller pieces
Fresh bamboo shoot, sliced thinly
1 whole bottle of Kampong Koh chilli sauce
1/2 bottle of tomato sauce
2 teaspoons vinegar
Fish stock (see above for prep)
2 eggs, beaten
Salt (might not need it)
Coriander for garnish
1. In a deep wok, fry the garlic and ginger together till it’s fragrant. Add your pork. Stir fry for few mins. Add your bamboo shoots and mushrooms.
2. Then add the chilli sauce and tomato sauce. Stir-fry. Pour fish stock till you cover bout 4 inches above ingredients.
3. Let everything boil together for 5 mins. Add vinegar and pepper to taste. Add your prepared fish maw and let it simmer for another 15 mins. If you see the soup being sucked up too much by the fish maw, add more fish stock and also chilli and tomato sauce.
4. Taste and adjust anywhere where necessary. I did add a little salt.
5. Do an egg drop method with the beaten eggs. Swirl your wok and trickle the egg into wok slowly.
6. Lastly, mix cornstarch with water to make a slurry and thicken the soup to your liking.
7. Garnish with coriander before serving. This dish will taste even better the next day.