When I was in high school, my favourite night of the week was Thursday. It had nothing to do with the shows on television that night (although I have to admit I was a fan of both the critically-acclaimed Cheers and the much-maligned Young Riders). Nor was it because the following day was Friday, which of course meant the start of the weekend — and (by the time I was a senior) also meant an incredibly relaxing day, having arranged my schedule so I had no more than a couple of hours of actual class time. There was no regular extra-curricular activity that got me revved up. Nor was there any other kind of after-school special that got my juices flowing. The reason why Thursday night was my favourite was because Thursday was duck night.

Every Thursday, almost without fail, my sainted mother would go to Chinatown and bring home a delicious, Cantonese roasted duck. It was and still is one of my favourite foods, the kind of thing I could not only eat weekly without ever getting bored of it but actually look forward to tasting week after week. Of course, man cannot live on duck alone. To eat along with the duck, mom would whip up one of a number of equally delectable dishes. Of these, there were three or four that she would make most often, their return appearances usually based on the volume and number of “yums”, “mmmmmmmms” and “wows” she heard at our table. Of these dishes, my own personal favourite was a simple dish whose origins I’ve never discovered.

Come to think of it, my mother never even gave this dish, a steamed roll of fish paste and egg, drizzled with a thick, sticky, savory and slightly sweet sauce, a name. Or at least, if it had one, I never knew what it was. Over the years, whenever I’ve asked my mother where she learned how to make this, she’d simply wave me off, saying it was something she picked up and liked making because she knew we (our whole family) liked it and, just as importantly, it was really easy to make.

I’ve always liked that this dish had strong yet clean flavours. Since it was steamed, it was also relatively healthy and acted as a good counterfoil to the much oilier duck that we were devouring alongside it.

Over the years, I’ve mentioned this dish to my darling wife S dozens of times but until this week had never made it for her. To do it properly, I served it with half a Cantonese roasted duck. It was Thursday night all over again.

Steamed fish and egg rolls

3 eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon salt
400g fish paste
1 red chilli
4-5 spring onions
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon dark, thick, sweet soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch/flour

Deseed and finely chop the red chilli. Wash and clean the spring onions. Then finely chop them, discarding about 1/3 of the green tips. Stir the spring onions and chilli into the fish paste.

Beat the eggs and add 1 teaspoon mirin and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat a large non-stick pan and fry half of the egg mixture, making a large, round, flat and thin omelet. Slide the omelet out onto a plate or tray. Then use the remaining half of the egg mixture to fry another thin omelet.

Taste your fish paste. Depending on how savoury it is (ideally, try and buy paste that isn’t too salty), spread a slightly thicker or thinner layer on the two omelets. Roll each one carefully into a long and compact tube. Transfer these to a steamer and steam for 12-15 minutes.

While the rolls are steaming, make your sauce. Boil the chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of mirin, reducing it by about one-third. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of the stock into a bowl and mix the cornstarch into it. When dissolved, pour this mixture back into the stock. Then add the 1 teaspoon of the dark, sweet and thick soy. Stir and simmer for a bit to thicken the sauce. You want the sauce to be thick. Season to taste with more mirin or soy.

When the rolls are ready, transfer them to a cutting board and cut them into thick slices. Plate these and drizzle the sauce over them.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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24 October 2007


Bless you for this recipe! You have no idea how far and wide and for how long I have been hunting for this recipe. These rolls bring back memories of Saturday afternoon playdates at a family friend’s place, and their Cantonese ‘ah mah che’ preparing this for lunch. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
p.s. You wouldn’t happen to have a reliable recipe for ‘foo yung daan’, would you? 🙂

Now that brings back memories. When I was a kid my dad went to HK to study the art of Chinese Roast meats under a well known Si Fu. His roast duck was a regular on our dinner table and mum used to serve the fish paste stuffed into eggplant, steamed and sometimes deep fried, then topped with the sauce you mentioned, which made it like a stuffed dengaku. YUM!

What is fish paste? What does it look like? Is it sold in cans or packets? And would I be able to get it in an Asian store in Australia? It looks like such a yummy dish and seems to easy to make. I’d really like to try it!

That recipe is crazy-cool. When I saw the picture, I thought you’d somehow managed to separate the yolk from the whites and join them in a layered roll. Great trick with the fish paste. I’m definitely going to try this recipe with my beloved Eggbeaters.

Hi! I was wondering if you have a receipe for carrot cake (cai tao guey). I’m now living in Germany and miss this dish very much. You have great posts for receipes. I’ve tried some and simply love it. Thanks!

When I was a kid, my mother called this ‘Silver Wrapped in Gold’ (in Cantonese). She found an item with that name in a restaurant menu and ordered it, curious about the fancy name. Turned out to be what she made at home for us kids — our family considered it children’s food as it was finger food in appealing colours.

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