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Tekwan is a kind of fish soup popular in some regions of Indonesia, for example, in the local area of Palembang in South Sumatra. In the Indonesian islands, many cooks prepare this dish from old recipes that utilize locally available foods. The prime ingredient is fish, cut up and mashed into doughy lumps.
Most recipes for tekwan involve boiling "fish balls" in shrimp broth. The fish balls are first prepared by mashing the fish, mixing it with tapioca flour or a similar substance, and kneading the resulting mixture until it is of a uniform texture. Egg whites are also added in many cases. Cooks add a range of other ingredients to the shrimp broth as it boils.
In many cases, the broth for tekwan is made by boiling the non-essential parts of the shrimp or prawns. This allows the cook to use the other edible parts of this sea creature in another dish. Flavor elements like garlic are added to the broth to produce a rich taste that complements the mild flavors of the fish commonly used to create this dish, including varieties of mackerel or snapper.
Along with garlic, other vegetables are also added to make the meal more substantial. These include celery, scallions and shallots. The shallots and garlic may be minced and roasted, or just boiled into the mix.
A range of other ingredients also go into tekwan in many authentic recipes. These include some rather exotic food elements such as lily buds and a food called yam bean. All of these add flavor, texture, and color to the soup.
Some of the above ingredients still don’t provide the bold, aggressive tastes that some people are used to in this dish. Some recipes also call for hot peppers. Cooks may use salt and black pepper as a flavoring for tekwan as well.
When it comes to representing regional presentations for fish, tekwan holds its own as a local variant of a greater culinary range of dishes. For example, in many south Indian food cultures, cooks use a specific fish paste or fish curry to make fish palatable. Any of these fish dishes may make their way into the cookbooks of western societies, where cooking fish more commonly involves simple preparations like pan frying with a light flour or corn meal. By looking at traditional world dishes such as this one, today’s cooks can glean information on various flavor profiles and other aspects of best presentation for fish as a main protein.