How to Prepare Batang Fish
Batang fish (Spanish mackeral/马鲛鱼) is the most common fish used in our local sliced fish soup (魚湯) and fish porridge (魚粥). When I first tried cooking batang fish slices at home, I found my cooked batang tough, dry and quite fishy. In comparison, the batang fish served at our fish soup stalls has a soft texture and a sweet taste. I always wondered what the hawkers do to achieve the nice texture & taste. After many trial-and-error attempts, my family said my sliced batang fish is now the same standard as the ones outside :D Here’s a simple tutorial on how I prep batang fish for soup.
This is what my sliced batang fish look like after prep & marination. It is now ready to add to soups, where it cooks quickly (1 minute) with a nice texture and taste.
This is my sliced batang fish for two. If you find the skin too fishy, you can remove it as I did with some of the pieces.
Add batang fish slices to a bowl with enough water to cover the fish and 1 tsp salt added.
Massage salt onto the fish flesh for 1 minute. My mum taught me this method to reduce the fishy taste of the fish. You can skip this step if you like the inherent strong taste of the fish.
After massaging, add cornstarch …
… stirring to dissolve the cornstarch fully in the salt water. Soak the fish slices for 3-5 minutes. The cornstarch gives the batang fish a soft texture after cooking, and prevents the fish from overcooking. But do not soak for too long, as doing so will result in the fish having a weird slippery touch after cooking.
Rinse the fish slices to get rid of the excess salt and cornstarch, then drain the fish as shown above.
The fish slices are now ready for marinating. I used sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese wine (Hua Tiao). The wine helps to reduce the strong batang fish taste – you can omit the wine if you are never bothered by the inherent strong smell of the fish.
This is my bowl of sliced fish bee hoon (魚片米粉) with the prepared batang fish slices. The fish slices are soft and sweet, just like the one at local fish soup stalls :)