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Feb 19, 2012 08:46 PM

KL: Carp Belly steamed "Cheong Ching" style

Hello foodies, please share your favourite recipe and/or favourite restaurant or "tai chow" coffee shop that you love going to in Kuala Lumpur (or Singapore!) for this particular dish.

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  1. No specific faves for me in KL at the moment, though I reckon you'll be able to get good steamed fish at Sek Yuen ( which is really cantonese old school, and especially Yap Chong ( where every other table seemed to be ordering steamed fish.

    5 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      Thanks Mr Yeoh. I'll contact these restaurants and ask if they have carp belly. Great restaurant reviews, the Sek Yuen dishes remind me so much of a little "shack" restaurant I was taken to - must be some 30 yrs ago now (gasp) - in (I think) Pudu area. I wouldn't be surprised if the same chef/operators were from there...(?) a bit like the "Paris" restaurant's beginnings in SS2...another restaurant I loved (and what a name lol - going to Paris in Malaysia!). I've still yet to find this particular dish in Singapore, though. I'd love to know if Cheong Ching style is originally Malaysian and therefore not available in Singapore (?)...

      1. re: superbadkitty

        I'm not sure if they have carp belly but the best Cantonese restaurants in Singapore like Imperial Treasure and Crystal Jade all make good steamed fish Cantonese-style, i.e. drizzled with hot oil & soya sauce at the end of the steaming process and just before serving.

        What is "Cheong Ching style", by the way?

        1. re: M_Gomez

          Hey there, thanks for the recommendation - love to try these two restaurants!

          Cheong Ching directly translated means "sauce steamed" in Cantonese, and due to the fact it's steamed with the sauce instead of the usual Cantonese style where the fish is steamed first and other ingredients or sauce added after the fish is steamed. It could also be that several sauces are used to make the sauce itself (I am not entirely sure about this, though).

          It is my absolute favourite sauce for steaming any fish (not just carp) and find it's not dissimilar to the Singapore Chilli Crab sauce. It's a delicious savoury and sweet sauce which is why it goes well with the oiliness of the carp belly and masks the "muddiness" that people talk about when they say they don't like carp.

          I like it slightly piquant so I add a little tomato paste to it when I am cooking it myself, or sometimes add a Chinese pickled plum or two. When cooked well, and topped with fresh coriander leaves and/or fried pork lard (chee yow char) and served with rice, it is also one of my favourite meals. I must add that although it is good without the fresh coriander leaves, it really is so much better with it! It really makes the dish outstanding.

          I have found it hard to find restaurants which do a good Cheong Ching sauce with time constraints on short trips to Malaysia and Singapore, let alone one that serves carp in the first place. I think tofu is also sometimes added to a Cheong Ching steamed fish dish.

          Cheong Ching style steamed fish when done really well, looks similar to this:

          but not like this:

          and definitely not like this either:

          A good Cheong Ching sauce has a bit of texture, but is not chunky and certainly not puréed...

          1. re: superbadkitty

            You know, that dish in your link positively looks like one of our Eurasian-Portuguese steamed fish dishes, where we also use taucheo (brown beanpaste), chillies, a lot of garlic, ginger and coriander leaves for garnishing.

            The last time I had this dish was long ago, in Dragon City Sichuan restaurant in Copthorne Orchid hotel in Dunearn Road which has since closed down.
            I don't think I'd seen this served in Imperial Treasure or Crystal Jade unfortunately, as they hold fast to their Cantonese roots.

            I also haven't seen this served in Teochew restauants like Huat Kee, as they steamed their fish according to Teochew style with sour plum, tomatoes, dried Chinese mushrooms, ginger and salted mustard.

            1. re: M_Gomez

              Really?! Wow, it could well be Eurasian-Portuguese under a different name! Either that or one has influenced the other... It's starting to sound like it's a Malaysian dish and not Singaporean, that's for sure... which would explain why I just haven't been able to find it in Singapore lol! Thanks for the info! :)

              Yes, the fermented bean paste used is in fact taucheo (I think taucheo could be the Hokkien or Teochew name -?-). Is there a particular name for the Eurasian-Portuguese "Cheong Ching" dish? 

              I remember a dish called Portuguese Baked Fish served at coffee shops and Chinese stalls and was told its roots were Malaccan or Eurasian. It was usually a whole fish, smothered in a spicy sauce of puréed aromatics, then wrapped in a banana leaf and/or foil, and grilled or barbecued at high heat until almost charred. Despite this, the fish would turn out juicy and perfectly cooked!

    2. I've been told about this place in Sungei Besi.. Anthomy Bourdain ate there in one episode of No Reservations: