A Shanghai classic, yellow croaker and pickled cabbage soup. One of the most humble fish, that we can't even find fresh here . . . taking all of 20 minutes to put together. And as I was cooking, something occurred to me about how these dishes became, well, classics. Any real Shanghai native will recognize what this is. The simplest ingredients, but satisfies everything you want a a savoury fish soup to be.
Shanghai (and by extension its residents) seems glamorous, but people forget that my city suffered under the Communists. We carry the heaviest tax burden in all of China, and often feeling the most disconnected - government ideology notwithstanding, the divide between north and southern Chinese should not be underestimated. They think of us as arrogant and self-centered; that we think of ourselves as Shanghainese and everyone else as just Chinese should tell you everything you need to know about us. But what we all forget is that our home cooking is above all, economical. Flavour and texture, paramount of course. But as this is our daily food, we have to also be economical with our resources.
Yellow croaker and pickled vegetable soup:
Hard sear on the fish
Using the same pan and leftover oil, fry your pickled cabbage until tender
Add water, bring to a boil
Fish goes in, and boil hard until the soup turns milky
Season to taste