"Imbi market is the go to place for great food. One of my go to places is Ah Fook Chee Cheong Fun, something of a mecca for Kuala Lumpur’s street food devotees. The specialties here are homemade chee cheong fun (silky, slippery steamed rice noodles which you order plain or with dried shrimp) and yong tau foo (assorted vegetables and tofu stuffed with fish paste) and, as unlikely as it may sound, you eat these together. The fish paste they use is homemade and, when cooked it has a fantastic bouncy texture." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia
This Southeast Asian delicacy features various vegetables stuffed with fish paste, steamed, and then fried and topped with a thick yellow bean sauce.
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 500 g skinless, boneless Spanish mackerel fillets, cut into 1 cm cubes
- ½ tsp each sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 6 long fresh red chillies
- 6 okra
- 10 fried tofu puffs
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 300 g fresh rice noodles (see Note)
- ¼ tsp black sesame seeds
- ¼ tsp toasted white sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fermented yellow bean sauce (taucheo)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 125 ml (½ cup) water
- 1 tsp cornflour combined with 1 tbsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the fish sauce in a small bowl next to a large mortar and pestle. Using the mortar and pestle, pound the fish into a paste, frequently dipping the pestle into the fish sauce to prevent the fish sticking to it. Alternatively, blend the fish in a food processor by pulsing the flesh and regularly scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt, pepper, sesame oil and garlic and continue to pound until you have used up all the fish sauce, everything is well combined and you have a fine, smooth and quite elastic paste.
To stuff the vegetables and tofu, use a small knife to cut a slit down one side of the long red chillies, okra and tofu puffs. Deseed the chillies. Using a teaspoon or butter knife, stuff the fish paste into the cavities. Any leftover fish paste can be frozen for up to 1 month. Place the stuffed vegetables and tofu in a steamer basket and steam over high heat for 5 minutes.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and bring to 180°C. Shallow fry the stuffed vegetables, cut-side down first for 2 minutes, then turn and fry for another 2 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel, then repeat with the stuffed tofu.
Place the rice noodles into the steamer basket and steam for 3 minutes or until warm. Divide the noodles, stuffed vegetables and tofu between 2 serving plates. Pour the sauce over the top, then sprinkle with the black and white sesame seeds and serve immediately.
• Fresh rice noodles are available from Asian markets.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok.