Last May, Tigerfish posted a very simple fish soup. I drooled over her post as she explained thoroughly how umami the soup is.

She also mentioned that the best fish to use for this soup is a whole oily fish which is rich in omega 3 such as yellow croaker fish or belt fish (ikan layur). When I read the word “whole fish”, I said to my self “yes, perfect for me!” I know some people would rather have skinless and boneless fish. But, I’m a girl who was born and spending my early childhood in a town that is nearby the Madura strait. I recalled vividly how I enjoyed swimming in the ocean, collected seashells and ate lots whole fish and shrimp. So, those conditions are influenced my diet.

FYI, yellow croaker and belt fish are available at most Asian markets in Winnipeg. Thou I adapted Tigerfish’s recipe, I have changed some ingredients due to what I had in my fridge/pantry. I used canesugar vinegar, bosc pear, Chinese chives and dried morrel instead of Chinese cooking wine, Asian pear, green onions and black fungus.

There was one thing that made me happy when I was cleaning the fish; the fish eggs inside the belly. I just took them out, rinsed off, seasoned with ground coriander, garlic and salt. Then, I pan-fried them. Yummmm.

February 3 2010 was the first day of Rabbit year according to Chinese calendar. To all my Chinese and Peranakan friends, Happy Chinese New Year, Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái. Honestly, I miss the Chinese New Year celebration in Indonesia, not to mention the holiday!

Fish Soup

1 whole oily and firm-flesh fish, scaled and guts removed, cleaned thoroughly
canesugar vinegar (original: Chinese cooking wine)*
Chinese chives (original: green onions), cut into 3-cm or 1-inch long
10 dried morrels (original: black fungus), soaked in a warm water until soft, slice and save the water for the soup
1 bosc pear, sliced
gojiberries (wolfberries), re-hydrated in water or canesugar vinegar before use

1. In a dutch oven or deep pan, make a bed of ginger and Chinese chives in. Place the whole fish. Pan fry the fish on both sides (with ginger and Chinese chives) to release some flavors of the fish for about 1-2 minutes. You can also do a broil method in the oven.

2. Add more ginger, Chinese chives, morrel slices, and pear slices. Add in soaked water from morrel and enough water to immerse the fish and start boiling at low-medium heat.

3. When boiling, turn down heat to low heat, add in gojiberries and allow it to simmer for about 20-30 minutes till everything is cooked. Salt to taste.

Tigerfish Note: Usually, we just drink the soup and don’t eat the fish since all the good flavor and taste of the fish have gone into the soup.

Cook’s Note:
If you like a bit spicier, substitute the vinegar or cooking wine with Nước Mắm Chấm (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce).


  1. Oh my mom will love this! She's a big fan of fish in general but especially in soups and stews. Never would've thought to add goji. It adds beautiful color and health. Happy Lunar New Year!

  2. Thanks for trying the recipe! I almost forgotten I have this dish – now I remember. Just last week, I saw carp fish head in the Asian grocery store and the first thought that came to mind was – fish soup!!!! Now I should have bought it and cook the soup. So I did not.

    You have a fresh creative adaption and I love it too 🙂

  3. What a great looking dish, a great CNY dish indeed.
    To Chinese is auspicious to serve fish during CNY, coz in Mandarin fish pronunciation has symbolic meaning of "surpluses" 😛


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