My late granny used to make fish floss (she called it ‘her hu’ in Teochew) a lot when I was little because my father loved fishing then and every weekend he would come home with a huge catch of fish like sea bass and snapper. I really missed those moments when the kitchen would be filled with the aroma of that spectacular fish floss that was just out of this world because I couldn’t find another one that was as good as Granny’s, not even coming close.
Granny said making fish floss was a very tedious task that involved steaming the fish, removing fish bones, flaking the fish flesh and then stir-frying it with different spices till they turned dry and light like floss. And it was more worthwhile to make a bigger batch since she had to go through all that hassle to make. The ready fish floss would then be stored in those empty Nescafe coffee jars and would last us for a few days to a week. Gran’s awesome fish floss was the perfect accompaniment with rice or porridge.
As I was making this fish floss, I couldn’t help but think of Granny who left us in February this year and everything still felt like yesterday. Really miss Gran a lot.
Spicy Fish Floss Recipe
520g shovelnose ray fillets (or any white fish)
100g grated coconut
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 pc star anise
2″ long cinnamon stick
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 stalks lemongrass (use only the inner white parts)
2″ knob ginger, peeled
4 red chillies
1 large red onion, peeled & cut into wedges
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated & peeled
1. Steam fish at high heat till cooked through and leave to cool. Remove skin & bones (if any), flake the flesh and set aside.
2. Using a food processor, combine all ingredients for the spice paste and process till fine.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and stir fry the spice paste, turmeric, star anise and cinnamon till fragrant.
4. Add salt and sugar, followed by the fish and kecap manis. Mix everything up thoroughly and then stir fry the fish mixture on very low heat for 30 minutes till the fish dries up and resembles fluffy floss.
5. Add the grated coconut and continue to stir fry for another 10 minutes.
6. Season with extra salt to taste if desired.