Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice

This is just about one of my favorite fried rice dishes.  And three months ago I had never heard of it.  I went into a Malaysian/Thai restaurant I go to now and then and saw this on the menu.  They had three “salted fish” dishes and this one was recommended by our waiter so I ordered it.  And I was amazed at how delicious and simple it was.  Nothing haute cuisine-ish.  Just delicious taste without being fishy.  So I set out to duplicate this at home since I loved it so much.  I spent weeks researching ingredients and testing things.  And I will tell you I made some dreadful mistakes.  What you see here is the correct recipe with the bugs worked out.

The most important ingredient to mention here is the salted fish.  The dish gets a LOT of flavor from this one ingredient and if you don’t get the right salted fish, it will be a disaster.  Online research was very little help in this area so I had to go out and experiment.

What you see here is the correct ingredient though you might also find it in chunks without the skin.  What I have above is dried, salted Yellow Croaker.  It is the whole fish gutted and then dehydrated.  The meat has the texture of stringy beef jerky and a mellow salty fish taste.  It is not putrid smelling but it does smell like fish.  To use this, you peel the flesh off of the skin which will have (the skin) a firm leathery texture.  After peeling off about a dry measure cup of loose dried meat, you will want to mince it with a sharp knife.

What you see above is your dried, salted fish removed from the skin and minced.  If you can find it without the skin that is fine.  But I love what I have here despite it looking creepy because I know what I have here was made by the staff at this farmers market and therefore fresh and quality controlled.  And when I say it looks creepy – check the image below for what the dried fish looks like flipped over…

So with this ingredient explained and prepared, lets move onto the rest of the pieces.

Here we have day old long grain Jasmine rice cooked in a rice cooker and then refrigerated overnight.  I wet my hands and broke up the clumps into individual grains of rice to make what you see here. You want the grains as separate as possible before frying.

Above I have everything except for the fried rice sauce.  Starting with the oil and going clockwise, we have vegetable oil, thin slices of chicken tenderloins, 3 eggs beaten, minced garlic, cut snow pea pods, scallions and the flower buds from Chinese chives, green romaine lettuce minced into strips, minced salted fish, frozen vegetable mix and finally our rice in the center.

I get my wok burner very hot and preheat my oil.  But before I start cooking after the oil gets hot, I lower this heat to about 20%.

After the heat is lowered, I toss in my garlic and salted fish.  Gently fry these ingredients.  If you start smelling anything burning, drastically reduce the heat.  This dish is ruined if you burn any part of it.  In making this, my blast furnace of a wok burner is actually a handicap.  I had to be very careful here.  After you fry the fish and garlic for 20 seconds, move them aside and add the eggs and scramble them.

After the eggs are scrambled, add your chicken and start stirring well.  keep the food moving to avoid burning anything.  After this, I add my scallions and chive buds and snow pea pods.  Get the pods coated well with oil.

After the pea pods cook for about 15 seconds, add the rice.  Turn up the burner to about 30-40% and keep cooking.  Again if you even smell the hint of burning, back the heat off.  Dump in the frozen vegetables and the romaine lettuce.  You may be asking yourself what the romaine lettuce is for.  The salted fish is dry.  Mixing this food around here, the romaine will give up its moisture and help steam the fish.  It will make it a little softer so it’s not so much like beef jerky and the romaine also helps keep the moisture well balanced within the rice.  It seems strange but trust me, it works!

Carefully add the fried rice sauce, pouring in a spiral and mix well.  After another 45 seconds or so, remove the wok from the heat.

Move the rice to a large serving bowl.

Once again, without any ceremony or rituals my son does the taste test for me.  He likes this as much as I do.

And here is mine with hot peppers and fish sauce added to season.  I am so happy I was able to reverse engineer this dish to find out what was in it and make it myself.  This is not an especially sweet dish – mostly savory.  And unless you add hot peppers, it’s very mild too.  But what it lacks in peppery heat it more than makes of for in flavor!  Despite being full of salted fish, it does NOT have a fishy flavor at all.  Even people with an aversion to seafood flavors will be able to handle this dish.

Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice (serves 6-8 as a main course)


  • 4 dry measure cups of uncooked Jasmine long grain rice
  • 3/4 lb thin chicken filets cut into strips
  • 1 dry measure cup minced salted dried fish
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup snow pea pods cut in half
  • 1 cup scallions
  • 3 tablespoons chinese chive flower buds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup romain lettuce greens minced into small strips
  • 3/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water


  • Cook the 4 cups of Jasmine rice the day before and refrigerate overnight
  • Wet hands and break the rice into individual grains.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl well
  • Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a wok.
  • When the oil starts to smoke, lower the heat by 70% and add the garlic and dried fish.
  • Fry gently, stirring carefully as not to break up the pieces of fish.
  • Move the garlic and fish up the side of the wok some and pour in the eggs
  • Scramble the eggs
  • Add the chicken and stir well with the other ingredients until the chicken starts turning opaque.
  • Add the snow pea pods and stir, frying gently.
  • Add the chive buds and scallions.  Stir well.
  • Increase the heat to 40%
  • Add the rice and if needed, add a little more oil to the center of the wok.  Stir well.
  • Add the frozen vegetables and the lettuce strips and mix well.
  • Pour in the fried rice sauce carefully in a spiral and stir well.
  • Cook another 45 seconds and remove from heat.
  • Put into a large bowl and serve.
  • Provide chopped peppers and fish sauce as desired.




Mediterranean Grilled Octopus

This is one of those dishes whose end product is often used in ANOTHER dish. You can eat this as it is after it is grilled or chill it and use it in a salad, soup or fried rice.  It is not an overly flavorful dish which is a good thing.  Most people who have never tried octopus think it is a very fishy tasting dish.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Octopus has its own flavor which is delicate and rich.

I like to get my octopus fresh at a local farmers market.  For this recipe I bought two octopi under 2 lbs in weight each. Mine were already cleaned (beaks and guts removed) such that everything I was given was edible.  The meat is very limp and pliable raw.  But even in sushi preparations octopus is never served raw.  So before we can grill it, the octopus must be simmered for over an hour.  I have about 3 lbs of octopus here so I will simmer mine for about 3 hours covered on low heat.

You want to pour in enough water to completely cover the octopus. Then add 1 cup red wine vinegar, your herbs, salt and pepper.  It looks rather flat here because it is still raw.

Ok, so here I have added some thyme sprigs, bay leaves, a little culantro, garlic, sage and parsley.  I also added a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of salt.

Here I have also added one lemon half which I squeezed into the water and will stew with the meat and herbs.  Now that the water is hot, the octopus balls up and the flesh starts to get firm.  At this point the meat is completely inedible because it’s like rubber.  It is at this point that I cover it and lower the heat and cook oil the meat is tender.  After 90 minutes I flip the octopi over so that the bottoms cook some as well.  The herbs will lend some flavor but even if you overdo it with one or more herbs it won’t overpower the flavor of the octopus.  Trust me.

Have a large bowl or bucket with ice water (mostly ice) in sufficient quantity to submerge the octopi in.  When you remove them from the simmering herb water and vinegar, plunge them into the ice bath and stir.  Move them around preiodically in the ice bath but leave them in there for 20 minutes.  The action of the vinegar in the simmer and the sudden freezing water will make the flesh so tender you can literally pinch the tentacles off with your fingers.  In the above pictire, the octopi are cooked, shocked and drained.  Discard the water and cooked herbs as there isn’t really anything you can use that for.  That broth will be too bitter to be palatable.

And here I have the cooked octopus brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt.  Very exotic looking indeed!  At this point I’ll carve the meat up into sections ending in tentacles.  You do not want pieces too thick and if they are, trim them even if you have sections without tentacles attached.  You want 1″ or less thickness for the flesh here.

I sprinkled some more coarse kosher salt on the oiled tentacles before putting them on the fire.  The charcoal sear on this gives it a delicious flavor.  I dare confess after the meat comes off the grill, it will be at it’s absolute peak flavor.  If you store it to use it in something else it will be very tasty but it will slightly less flavorful than it was when it first came off the fire. There is no way around this but it is still wonderful in a soup or salad, cut up in fried rice or even minced as a cold topping for canapé hors’deuvres.  I will grill it here for 12-15 minutes, turning every couple of minutes to get a good flame grilled flavor on all sides.

And the first batch is served.  You’ll note the paper plate in the background where I sliced off a piece to taste it first.  Wonderful mediterranean flavor! As the chef you have to do this 😉  I like this chilled in a salad as well with chopped red onions and radish slices along with a crisp romaine lettuce and a light Greek dressing (I’ll include a little fish sauce in the dressing for an umami punch).  If you do use it in a salad, cut the meat up further into small bite sized pieces.

Here is the recipe.

Mediterranean Grilled Octopus (serves 4-6)


  • 2 octopus cleaned and eviscerated (under 2 lbs each)
  • Enough water to cover the octopus in a stock pot.
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves cut in half
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 culantro leaves shredded
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 6 sage leaves scored
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut in half with one half cut into wedges for serving.
  • 1 scallion (save for garnish at the end – do not add to the pot).
  • 1 bowl or bucket of ice water sufficient to submerge both octopi in after cooking.


  • Place the octopus in a stock pot that has a lid.
  • Cover the octopus with water with 2-3″ water above the octopus
  • Add all herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar
  • Squeeze the lemon juice into the water and drop the lemon half into the pot as well.
  • Heat to boiling.
  • Cover and lower the heat to barely a simmer.
  • Cook for 3 hours or more.
  • Test the meat with a sharp knife for doneness.  The meat should not be very rubbery.
  • Drain the octopus and plunge into the ice bath.
  • Stir the octopi occasionally in the ice bath.
  • After 20 minutes in the ice, drain and cut the octopus into slices not more than 1″ thick.  But keep tentacles intact.
  • Brush the octopus generously with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  • Grill over high heat for 12-15 minutes, turning frequently until well seared on all sides.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and top with chopped scallions.