It was last year when I first saw some blogs making this dried fish fillet snacks (yeah, I know I'm "slow" as it has been done some years back already) but I knew that I wanted to attempt it the following year.
So, this is the following year.....and I'm attempting it! Little did I know how labour intensive it was going to be as the blogs (those that I read anyway) didn't highlight this point! >.< I guess that's why people don't make this to sell as it just wouldn't be profitable enough since it's too time consuming.
And so, yours truly went to the nearest supermarket in my neighbourhood and bought these Dahfa Dried Fish Fillet (120g) at a promotional price of RM5.88 a pack.
Back home, I got down to business and tried to tie the dried fish fillet as best I could. Most of the blogs said to start with 3 strands....and so I did.
But after a few failed attempts on the way it should be tied (shown in the blogs) was too difficult for me, I tried to just knot it but found that the fragile fish strips easily broke apart when I tried to do that (even though I used as little force as I could).
Finally, I decided to just fold 3 strands into half and used another strand to tie the strands loosely together (don't try to make a tight knot). You have to be very delicate and use as little force as possible in the process, otherwise the strands will break apart.
After one painstaking hour, this was what I got....about half of the packet done! O_o OMG, what a lot of hard work! Why didn't any blog forewarn me to the difficult task at hand or that it'd be so time consuming! :(
As I was already tired from all the tying, I decided to fry these first. Make sure the oil is not too hot. I threw them in, flipped them over once (since I didn't use much oil) and fished them out immediately....and all this have to be done in a window that's just mere seconds....probably no more than 5! So, you have to be very quick, otherwise you'd be dealing with a lot of burnt snacks.
Fish them out and drain on paper towels. When you first take them out, they'll be limp but let it cool and they'll crisp up nicely...you can see some overly browned ones on the top! >.<
I was able to fill 1 1/2 small containers with half a pack of dried fish snacks since they need to be loosely packed. Even at the point of packing, you have to be very gentle or risk smashing them to pieces!
The second half of the pack took me only half the time (30 minutes) to complete (a definite improvement). Eh, that's not too bad...a lot quicker than I thought, I must be getting the hang of it.
For this half, I decided to bake it instead (as some blogs did too). I layed it on a tray (with baking paper underneath) and baked it at 150C for 7 minutes (some blogs say to bake it at 140C for 10 - 15 minutes).
Since all ovens' temperatures may differ slightly from one another, use the timing suitable for you to achieve the desired browning (just watch your first batch to find the optimum timing) and take it out once slightly brown.
I was able to fill a medium-sized container with this half of the snacks. So, I guess one packet of dried fish fillet snacks will probably fill up two medium-sized containers....not bad at RM3 a can with a lot of work...but ultimately a cheap snack for Chinese New Year! ;D Was it worth the hard work? Yes!!
What's the best thing about these snacks? They're super, super crispy...both versions! But I'd have to say the ones fried in oil has a more "hiong" (fragrant) taste but they're also more oily. As for the baked ones, the faint taste of the dried fish fillet comes through a bit more. My spouse likes the fried ones...my preference.....the baked ones...somewhat healthier snack and a lot less work compared to frying!
However, I also found out another thing about these snacks....and that they're meant for your own consumption only. Why? Coz 1) they're so time consuming to make and 2) they're so fragile (because of their super crispiness), you can't gift them to someone coz you can't transport them anywhere as they'll break up and disintegrate from all the moving and bumping along the way (unless you hold on to it with your dear life throughout your "balik kampong" journey)! :p
So, think carefully if you want to make these dried fish fillet snacks for your family's own consumption over the festive period...it's a lot of work.....but it's also very good. Excuse me while I go make some more! ;D