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Chinese Recipes
Ham Yue or Salty Fish
Ham Yue is a general name for cooking small fish between 2 and 4 inches long, and very slender. The name means 'Salt Fish' in Cantonese because they naturally taste a little salty when cooked. They are very similar in virtually all respects to British Whitebait.
When purchasing, have a good look around the wet market and choose ones that are in a tank and swimming around if possible. You probably want to buy around 1lb of them, and Cantonese will probably sell them by the 'Catty', which is a traditional measure fractionally over this weight (1.12 lbs).

If your options are limited to ones on a counter, then smell them to make sure they are fresh. All fish should be fresh that morning, so it pays to get to the wet market for 7am to ensure best quality. These (Like Whitebait) are not descaled, gutted, or have anything else done by way of preparation. You eat them whole.
Image: Ham Yue, Salty Fish or Chinese Whitebait - Click to Enlarge

Chinese Recipe

The normal way to cook these is to wash them under water and then let them marinade in a little soy sauce for roughly 20 minutes (see picture right above). When you are ready to cook, simply pour the contents as shown into a hot wok with a little oil, and stir fry for several minutes, tossing fairly often. The oil could have either or both a clove of garlic and a little freshly diced ginger, but the taste is perhaps better without. Cook until they begin to turn brown and crispy and immediately remove from the heat, plate, and serve. A small condiment bowl of soy sauce is usually provided at table for dipping as you like.

Chinese Recipe 2

There is a slight variation to the above which you will find in many restaurants.

In this version you simply put the small fish out after washing and quickly dry them. It is important this is natural drainage and perhaps gentle shaking simply to remove the excess wash water. Dust with a little flour and toss in a bowl with your fingers. The flour will adhere to the fish. Add one tablespoon of good quality oil (High temperature) to the wok and throw in the dish, stirring frequently. They will quickly crisp, so be very careful to remove them early, otherwise some may burn or reduce to bones. A couple of minutes should do it. Remove and drain immediately to ensure they remain crisp. Serve to table as soon as any excess oil has been removed.

This dish, or either in fact; can benefit from additional ingredients, but this is up to you. Common additions to the flour are a very little of any from: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic salt. I recommend a hint of curry powder for something amazing! To the oil you can add any from: diced ginger, garlic, chopped chilli. Vary the soy sauce dip by adding a little wasabi or sliced chilli. You would be unwise to add everything mentioned above to a single dish - we are looking for subtle hints of flavour.

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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