Spicy Braised Fish with Whole Garlic

The Chinese recipe testing continues, and now I'm getting pretty serious about it all. I've invested in a few cookbooks that make me wish I could quit my job and be the next Chinese Julie and Julia.

Fuchsia Dunlop has put out a few books that are currently rocking my world. First of the two I've purchased, Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking, focuses on her time spent mastering the techniques in the Sichuan province, specifically Chengdu. All my fellow study abroad friends would likely agree that an English cookbook that teaches you how to make a "hot pot, is a gem.

And the second, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking. Anyone looking to learn a few simple, Chinese recipes should pick this us. The pictures are wonderful, and the dishes simple after a quick trip to your local Chinese market.

Here is a recipe adapted from Land of Plenty. I used a small piece of fish, rather than a whole fish, and modified amounts accordingly. Serve the fish with another side dish and some white rice or soup, and share like they do in China!

Spicy Braised Fish with Whole Garlic
serves 2

.5 lb mild white fish filet, deboned (I used Wolffish)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dry sherry vinegar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 head garlic (paper removed)
2 tbsp chili bean paste
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water combined
1 scallion (diced)
1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
cooked white rice
leafy green side dish

Start by covering the fish in salt and sherry vinegar. Let sit for about an hour in the fridge.

Prep the rest of your ingredients while the fish marinades. The fish will cook quickly, so everything should be prepared ahead of time.

In a medium to large wok or saute pan, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add garlic cloves to blister skin, but not burn it, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pat fish dry, and add, skin side down, to the hot oil. Cook on both sides for 3 minutes, until a nice crust has formed. Remove from heat and set aside. You will finish cooking it later.

Turn down heat slightly. Add chili bean paste and ginger. Let cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Stir in sugar and dark soy sauce. You may need to lower the heat at this point so the liquid isn't boiling out of control. Add the fish to the braising liquid, and simmer for 6 minutes. Turn the fish over, add the garlic back to the wok, and finish cooking for 6 minutes. Remove fish and garlic from wok to a serving dish.

Mix in the corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce. Turn off heat and add scallions and chinkiang black vinegar. Pour sauce over fish and serve piping hot with white rice and some yummy veggie dishes.

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