虱目魚粥 (shi mu yu zhou) Milkfish Congee (congee = rice porridge) is a specialty of Taiwan’s southern city of Tainan (台南). Or so I am told, honestly I only every been by on the train, never stopping. Which is a shame really, since Tainan is a very important Taiwanese cultural capital (and once the actual capital of Taiwan). But luckily for the me, just because Milkfish Congee is a specialty of Tainan does not mean that it is hard to find elsewhere on the island. It is a small island after all and they raise tons of milkfish in their aquaculture industry throughout the south.
In the US milk fish is not always an easy find and probably not really worth the extra effort. Since most any white fleshed fish can be substituted with pretty decent results. I use cod/scrod, but I image everything from catfish to tilapia could be used. Now to be clear there are a couple different versions of Milkfish Congee. One is a soup base poured over cooked rice, the second is the method of cooking rice in a large volume of water to make a smoother textured porridge (the method which is probably more widely known in the West). The recipe I list here is for the latter style. In Tainan I think they prefer the former. So I present you with Fish Congee, not quite Tainan style, but still very Taiwanese.
- 1 fillet of white fleshed fish, boneless, chopped into bite size chunks
- 1 c. rice
- 8 c. water
- 2 t. salt
- 1/2 T. dashi no moto (instant Dashi stock)
- chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
- shredded young ginger root
- chopped green onion
- chopped youtiao or deep fried wonton skins
- shaved dried bonito flakes
- a dash of white pepper and sesame oil
- Combine 8 c. water and 1 c. rice in a large pot, add salt and dashi no moto. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
- After 20 minutes add chopped pieces of fish and cook until just done (just a few minutes).
- Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.