We have enjoyed salted fish fried rice in Chinese restaurants across Southeast Asia, some with a perfect balance of saltiness and moisture and flavor, while others poor pretenders at best. While we enjoy the dish immensely, we haven’t tried to cook it at home, but the purchase of some spectacular dried lapu-lapu was the catalyst for this attempt… The results were startlingly good. I understand Chinese restaurants use a particular kind of dried fish, but I have not figured out what it is… I just went on gut feel that this meaty lapu-lapu would yield a very edible version of Daing Fried Rice.
Start by cooking an entire pot of rice the night BEFORE you want to make the fried rice, as “old” boiled rice is better than freshly cooked rice for this recipe. Next, take half of a large daing na lapu-lapu, around 300 grams worth of meat and soak this for an hour or two, depending on how much salt you want to remove from the fish. Change the water a few times if you want to reduce the saltiness further. We didn’t soak for too long because I WANTED the salt.
In a large kawali or wok, heat up some vegetable oil (I used about a cup or two worth) and fry meaty pieces of the daing. Remove and cool slightly until you can shred the dried fish into small pieces. Strain the oil that you fried the dain in (it will probably have some residue in it) and return about 4-6 tablespoons of the fragrant oil back to the wok or kawali and heat this up again. Add the shredded daing, some minced garlic then the rice and mix thoroughly…
You have to gauge the dried fish to rice ratio to achieve the right balance of saltiness to starch… For half a medium sized fish, I used about half or more of a regular pot of rice from a rice cooker. Next, I cracked three organic eggs onto the rice and mixed this some more. The egg helps to bind the rice together a bit and adds a little bit of complexity to the dish. Sprinkle with chopped green onion for color and some flavor. I added the fried half fish head for the purposes of the photo, mainly… But the taste of this dish was excellent. A little too salty but we were able to modulate that with more rice. Enjoy this with a side dish of smashed native tomatoes and that is a complete meal in my eyes… but of course we served this with crab and other seafood and vegetables as well. In the end, despite the pricey dried fish, I figured that we used a maximum of 300 grams or PHP150 worth of fish, about PHP20 worth of rice, oil, gas, etc. and this easily fed 12-15 hungry adults so each large serving cost just PHP13-15; not bad at all!
A second way that we enjoyed the dried fish was sarciado style, and I did a previous post on this here, but with fried danggit instead. In this sarciado, one of the crew’s spouses made a thick sauce of onions, garlic, lots and lots of brilliant native tomatoes, vinegar, a little soy sauce, sugar, etc. and added soaked pieces of daing, fried, and let this all simmer until done. Superb! And unless you want heart palpitations, all you need is a couple of square inches of of daing and the sauce and you will easily have enough for two cups or more of rice! :)