Fish Belly Porridge – The Simple Things in Life

In our hectic, headless chicken driven lives, we forget that the joy that  the simple things in life  bring. It’s like we love making things more complicated than it ought to be, as if the more complicated it is, the more gratification we will get. But  do we really?

Of all the holidays I have had, the best are the ones where I have spent days at one single location. Just soaking in the spirit of the place. Of course, anyone who knows me well will know that my favourite breaks are simply going for a trek – 10 to 14 days preferably – walking 5 to 8 hours from one campsite to another. These are human paced holidays – you walk at human pace and not simply flying from one place to another.

To me, trekking represents what life is – you walk at your own pace with nobody to dictate how fast or slow you should go, sometimes you  speed up, sometimes you slow down. At certain points of the trek, you have company, but there could be days when you are mostly alone and that’s okay, because there is a quiet welcomed peace with being alone. The trail is peppered with ups and downs. When you are ascending a summit pass, it’s hard with slight symptoms of  AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) kicking in but you encourage each other on, waiting at ledge points for your buddies.  Exhilaration sets in when you reach the top, you are happy but real trekkers know that the beauty of a trek is not just reaching the top but the journey of getting there.

Back to the idea of simplicity – it can sometimes apply to cooking too. Yesterday, I was thinking of what to cook for dinner. I was a bit tired of “heavy” recipes – Last Friday was steak with the usual sides, Monday was slow boiled old cucumber soup with a side of stir fried broccoli, ear fungus and oyster mushroom.

So when I came across Song fish belly at the supermarket, I knew what I was going to have for dinner. The Song fish is an extremely bony fish with bones the size of long thin needles. Its’ saving redemption is it’s silky flesh with gelatinous bits on it’s head. The belly is the only part which I would eat with a kid (if I didn’t want a headache in deboning) and for some reason, the belly portion is deemed as fish bones by the fishmonger, so it’s sold even cheaper than the rest of the fish body.  (hurray for me!) . I washed the pieces with some salt, just to get any residue fishy smell out (although this step is probably not needed for a fresh fish).

I had some frozen pre-julienned mountain ginger from Penang. This variety of ginger is known for it’s fragrance. It’s skinnier (think –  Kenyan runner vs  me – who has more power?)  than it’s usual market cousin but it packs a punch! The ginger was fried and set aside.

Now all that was needed was to steam the pieces of the Song fish topped with the fried ginger.  Once done, just drizzle some light soya sauce on it.  This is my take on soya sauce – always get the best possible soya sauce – it can make or break a dish. For me, I get my year’s supply of soya sauce when I drive up to Penang or KL.

As for the porridge, what can I say, I love my thermos pot. I peeled and tossed some sweet potato, millet and a mixture of brown and red rice into the pot. Boiled it on slow for about 15 to 20 minutes before keeping it in the thermos pot.  (if you using white rice, it only takes 10 minutes). Obviously, the porridge was done before I started on the fish because it takes time to slow cook in the thermos.

My little gourmet food reviewer said, – ” Mama, how come it’s so simple but delicious?”

I rest my case.


Fish Porridge

Fish Porridge


4 Responses to “Fish Belly Porridge – The Simple Things in Life”

  1. hi Cecilia, which brand of Penang soy sauce do u use? I remember visiting u once and u cooked really yummy chicken liver porridge, like your daughter said, simple and delicious!

    • Hi Petrina, In Penang, my mother introduced me to Double Camel which she says was around even when she was growing up! I tried it and thought that it was pretty good but I have only found it in the “che tem ma” at Island Glades (where Genting coffeeshop is), on the side of shops with the soya bean shop. Note that it is Double Camel and not the Camel brand. The other brand which I haven’t really tried for a while but use to use it is the Angel brand which can be found in most supermarkets. The label is blue with a Chinese lady in those traditional costume. Again there is a competitor with a similar logo. As a side note, I have actually tried using Bragg’s Amino Protein on steam fish – perhaps it’s because of what I grew up with but the taste was just too different to give that satisfaction of being comfort food!

      • hi Cecilia, found the Double Camel exactly where u said it would be. will be quite a while till I use it tho, gonna use up current bottle. have been using various brands from organic shops, supposedly fermented over months, there is a definite difference in taste, more umami-ish.

        • Hi Petrina,

          Great! Hope it lives up to your expectations. I know what you mean about brands from organic shops. I tried some in the past but there seems to be something lacking. I just hope it just the fermentation process that makes the difference and not some “secret ingredient”!

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