It’s not unusual…

It’s not unusual for people to cook tom yam using sea food such as fish, prawns or sotong (cuttlefish) and so on but usually, the dish is soupy.

My missus bought two of this white pomfret (ikan bawal putih) the other day…

Tom yam steamed fish 1

…and steamed one of them in the usual Chinese style. It would be such a waste to use the fish to cook tom yam as it would lose its sweetness in the soup…and being such an expensive fish, RM20-30 a kilo, I would like to savour the flavour and not have it drowned by the tom yam. So, I decided to steam it with tom yam sauce and to prepare the sauce, I used the following ingredients:

Tom yam steamed fish 2

– tom yam paste, a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste), two stalks of lemon grass (serai), two slices of ginger and two or three pieces of assam keping (tamarind) plus chillies. I boiled them in a bit of water in a saucepan and leave it to cool. I thought it was a bit too sour, so I added a teaspoon of sugar to it.

Then I poured the tom yam sauce over the fish and steamed it for around 15-20 minutes…

Tom yam steamed fish 3

The photo of the fish after the steaming turned out blur, so I’m afraid I am unable to post it here. It turned out to be very nice though and certainly was a welcome change from the usual. The sauce went well with the rice and we could still enjoy the taste of the fish, unadulterated. Perhaps you would like to give it a try?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

30 thoughts on “It’s not unusual…”

  1. Huh? I never makan bawal tomyam before. This is something really new to me.

    Have to make sure it’s bawal putih. Bawal hitam’s not suitable for steaming – you’ll have to cook it in tomyam soup…and maybe add some veg like baby corn or cabbage. If the bawal hitam is really very fresh, you can steam it and pour Portuguese steamed fish sauce over it – that would be more suitable as the sauce is stronger. Can buy the Mak Nyonya brand – ready-to-use paste.

    1. I dun like Mak Nyonya tomyam paste. I prefer those from Thailand wan. Very kao. LOL…I got a few jar of Tomyam paste from Thailand over here. LOL… stocked up during the recent Thai fair. Mwhahahahahah…my dad always tell my mum that my tomyam taste better than hers. And I damn jahat punya, never share my secret wif her. πŸ˜›

      Mak Nyonya Portuguese steamed fish sauce lah, not Tom Yam. I also used Tom Yam paste from a bottle – dunno what brand, missus beli and stuffed in fridge, never used – so I just took and use lor! Nice, boleh tahan.

      1. I oso dono wud brand I use. LOL…Written in Thai language, tak tau baca. LMAO…

        Dunno what ingredients inside, still dare to use hor! Who knows what they put that’s why extra delicious! Hahahahaha!!!

      2. *sitting here waiting for Cleff to cook tomyum for me to eat*

        …and she’s waiting for your fried mihun!!! Btw, mihun in tom yum soup also nice…or tung hoon (glass noodles)… πŸ˜€

  2. The fish looks very fresh! Never steam with tomyam sauce before, my girl loves tomyam and i usually use the cheaper fish like talapia to steam..

    I do not have a choice, Missus buys and stuffs in the freezer. Most of the time when I want to cook…I would just see what’s in the fridge and what I can cook and how. Tilapia should be very nice too – we get live ones from the Batang Ai dam. Fresh and sweet! My daughter doesn’t want to eat cause she saw them swimming in the kitchen sink and she said so kesian to eat them!!! So we’ve never had tilapia since!😦

    1. lol.. just because she saw them swimming in the sink?.. then what about other fishes?.. they were all live once before you cooked them.. LOL..

      Well, she didn’t see them alive and swimming around in the water. All dead… LOL!!! πŸ˜€

    2. Wah! Your daughter like me… long long time ago… I saw crabs crawling in the kitchen sink. i think I was 9 or 10, den I stopped eating crab til I was 16! i kesian wanna eat them!

      Friends of wild life! Not me! Dead or alive, I’ll eat! Hahahaha!!!!

  3. hharr??? just as simple as that meh? how come the way my mum taught me is different one? and more complicated some more.

    If it’s complicated, I would be the last person to cook it. My ways, all simple and so easy to manage one! I think your mum taught you to cook the real authentic tom yam – add this, add that…all the leaves, the flowers and what not. I would break out in cold sweat if I have to go through all that!

    1. YEA!!! so many ingredients till i give up in learning it halfway. but my mum n dad owez cook those authentic style 1. very aromatic and extra delicious. btw, am goin to try ur recipe this sunday to impress them! πŸ˜› wish me luck!geez!

      Don’t bother! I always cook some nice things that my mum used to cook and give her. She would taste and then say this or that is lacking, just so-so… 😦 …Yet she will eat all of it and look like she enjoys it thoroughly! Hehehehehehe!!!! πŸ™‚

  4. Give it a try? That’s how my grandma used to sometimes steamed the fish! Hahaha! Deja vu! πŸ˜€

    See! All it takes is a bit of imagination… Can have so many ways of cooking, Hehehehehe!!! πŸ™‚

  5. i lurve lurve tom yam!
    im not a gravy-on-rice person, but thing is different with tom yam. i mean real sour and spicy tom yam. ooh la la ❀

    You would love this then! With the dried assam keping, it was very sour…and with the chillies…oooo!!!! Yum! Yum! LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  6. wasted ler…the tom yam taste cover the fish whre got nice as cant reli tasted the ish…i wont try that not rich as u… πŸ˜€

    That’s why I didn’t cook the fish i.e. boil in the tom yam soup like I would with other fish with a stronger taste – wanted to retain the taste of the fish in the fish and not the soup. You’re not as rich meh? Me poor pensioner, you working in Singapore and free and single some more!!! Gold mine… πŸ˜€

  7. TQ – good idea to cook with Tom Yam…maybe I try with black pomfret,
    I hardly eat white pomfret – heard the mercury contain vv high…this fish vv expensive – rich man food after makan got rich man sickness too. haha.

    Black pomfret, you’d probably have to cook in the soup – same as when cooking assam or curry fish bacause it has a stronger smell – not suitable for steaming. I think Gerrie has the answer to the mercury issue…

    1. Am interested to know the source that said the mercury content is very high in white pomfret. Should be interesting information, as mercury is usually found in larger fishes, like the big tenggiris, and of course tuna.

      All I know is if you have shingles, you can’t eat that or any fish without scales for that matter…and if I’m not mistaken, they say it may cause gout – so maybe high uric acid content. But I eat…no problem leh? πŸ™‚

  8. Oh….something new to experince with this pomfret next time, but i m no good in cooking Tom Yam wor….

    Do it my way – throw everything in water and boil! Add the fish…and that’s it! Sour and spicy! Nice…but of course, it may not have the smell of all the leaves and flowers that they use in authentic tom yam! And those are the very reason why I’m not a fan of tom yam. Prefer it this way… πŸ™‚

  9. You just reminded me of my mother’s authentic soupy masam one…but the fish was very cheap one, i remember it was sardine… one dish we will eat the whole day… man those were the days my friends, and it is not unusual that i cant have it now…..

    Can use any kind of cheaper fish mah – kembong, tenggiri, bawal hitam…but fish with stronger smell/taste, better cook/boil in the sauce or soup – don’t steam! Steaming is usually for fish with milder taste – smell not so strong. So easy to cook…anyone can do it!

  10. I can still remember the ‘pek chio moi’ long long time ago at the big market stall in Sibu. Do the stalls still cook that? So yummy!

    Don’t see any around. Anyway, I don’t go to the market stalls…so hot and surroundings not very conducive to dining. With the price of “pek chio”, I don’t think they have it anymore… And talking of fish porridge, I must cook my own simple version one of these days and post on it – Good Friday perhaps! Fasting and no-meat day!

  11. yeah actually the expensive fish are best steamed and served with oil and soy sauce. Simple and nice!

    I know…but we just had it steamed the usual Chinese style two days ago and I wouldn’t want to have it the same way again. Besides, to steam plain (maybe with a few chunks of garlic only), the fish must be very very fresh. Had that once at a place called Greenhill, quite a long drive from Kuching, white pomfret – huge one! It was so very nice that we ordered another one, but the 2nd one was not as good – maybe not as fresh as the first one.

    I told my wife, only two of us at home – just buy one especially considering that the fish is so expensive Want to eat again…buy again in the not-too-near future. But all my words will always seem to fall on deaf ears. Is it something about women in general?

  12. not really a fan of white pomfret….prefer black pomfret, as find the flesh sweeter and tastier.

    Me too. White pomfret only for steaming – taste mild and a bit bland. Others, I would much prefer black pomfret, including just simple frying…and eat with kicap.

  13. Tom Yam + White Pomfret, both are my favourite dish… but wonder how’s the outcome(taste) if comfined both together… hrm… should be superlicious right! ^-^

    It is nice…and good for a change but I prefer the usual Chinese style of steaming the fish – not really a fan of tom yum. Like when going for steamboat – I would opt for chicken stock, never tom yum for the soup.

  14. Tom Yam Fish? I love tom yam soup. hehe πŸ™‚

    Me, not really. Don’t mind having it…but you would not see me going out for dinner and ordering tom yum soup – not even in Thai restaurants.

  15. This is the first time I saw anyone use this fish to cook with tom yam. :p

    Cooking is like teaching – must be innovative and creative. Cannot follow book all the time – boring like hell!!! What about you? Textbook teacher? I certainly hope not…

  16. that sounds it was gorgeous with lots of rice. there’s so much more variety at home when it comes to seafood though, isnt there

    I just went to the fish market once in the UK…and did not know all the fish. Bought a mackerel but it was not tenggiri…more like tongkol with a very heavy fish smell. Never went back again… Just settled for the fish fillet in the supermarkets each time I felt like having fish.

  17. Good idea to prepare the white pomfret. But too bad my dad and mum don’t like Tom Yam. They like to just steam it plain or fried it.

    I prefer it steamed – the usual Chinese style…but I do not like it fried – too mild or bland. For frying, I would rather have black pomfret or other fish.

  18. i love steamed fish.. but not with tom yam =P

    Me too! Just thought I would have something different for a change. Not bad, quite nice, in fact – but I still prefer it in the usual Chinese style.

  19. me poor coz work to pay singapore money while u pensioner rich as no nid work but get paid… πŸ˜€

    If high-ranking officers, ok lah…high pay, retire with a big fat pension – relax and do nothing…but for ordinary people like me, retiring is not something to look forward to – pension so small hardly, enough to survive… Luckily I can still work a bit to earn a bit of pocket money.

  20. I may give this a try, too… tired of the ol’ soy sauce based steamed fish hehe ..

    Soy sauce steamed fish? Eyew…never had that! Oyster sauce would be nice or fish gravy…

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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