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Fried Dace with Black Beans and Rice

The fried dace is a traditionally simple, cost-effective and quickly-cooked snack that is generally eaten with rice. It was manufactured in the late nineteenth-century, with the first factory for canned fried dace with black beans being established with the Guangzhou Guangmaoxiang Canned Food Factory in China in 1893, due to its popularity with those immigrating overseas for work. It was eaten as a cost-effective alternative to meats that were often much more expensive for the Chinese workers who had moved to Australia. The black beans themselves have been used as a preservative since ancient times, with inscriptions of their existence found at the Mawangdui Tomb Site, sealed in 165 B.C. The fried dace with black beans is nowadays eaten as one dish amongst others during dinners, rather than as a meal in itself as it was in the early gold rush.

Food History


Jason Chan, from Cabramatta, Sydney. The simple meal had been in his family for generations. It is often cooked with other foods as well, with the fried dace becoming more of a side dish rather than being the singular focus of dinner. The origins of the dish have been transcribed below from an oral interview.

Personal History:

"My tai-gong (great-grandfather) used to eat this for dinners after he came home late from working at the shop. Everybody ate it with rice since the fish had a lot of flavour already. Normally it was poor people who'd eat it, since it was cheap and with the rice it fills you up like a normal meal. The whole reason why my tai-gong ate it was because you didn't have to cook it. It was quick and cheap and it had flavour. That's what everybody wants for their food."

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How to Buy

How to Eat

It can be found in small, yellow tins at local supermarkets.

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The fried dace can be eaten cold, or it can be eaten microwaved (not in the tin, it should be moved to a plate, or bowl). It is generally eaten with plain rice, alongside other dishes, such as sweet and sour pork, sweet pork, five spice tofu, etc. during dinner.

It can also be cooked in a pan with rice, minced garlic, Chinese wine, and soy sauce for a more flavoursome, albeit more time-consuming meal. The recipe can be found in the video below in 'additional information'.

Additional Information

> The Quintessential Cantonese Condiment - Fried Dace with Black Beans (Stephanie Li)

> You’re Invited to Join the Cult of Dace (Leela Punyaratabandhu)

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