Get a little spicy with Chinese fish in chilli sauce
Get a little spicy with Chinese fish in chilli sauce
Get a little spicy with Chinese fish in chilli sauce

Get a little spicy with Chinese fish in chilli sauce

From the simplicity of spring rolls to the complex flavours of Sichuan dishes, there’s a lot to love about Chinese food. It is one of the world’s most-enjoyed and oldest cuisines, and highly regarded Chinese authors Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan have joyously celebrated it in their gilt-edged compendium China: The Cookbook. The book explores more than 650 authentic traditional recipes from 30 distinct regions of China, including staples such as hot-and-sour soup and chicken in black bean sauce, and lesser-known dishes such as Lai Wan-style congee and laughing doughnuts. This recipe for fish in chilli sauce comes from the Sichuan region – so you can be sure it will get your heart racing.

3 dried black mushrooms
1 dried black fungus
1 (800 g) carp, cleaned and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 L vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons grated ginger
150 g ground (minced) pork
1 tablespoon rice wine
10 pickled red chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons Pixian chilli bean paste, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2–1 tablespoon black or balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, plus extra to taste
4 spring onions, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced, to garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Put the mushrooms and black fungus in two separate bowls and soak in cold water for at least 20 minutes, or until softened. Remove the mushrooms, squeeze dry and discard the stems. Dice, then set aside. Tear the black fungus into small pieces.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to make five to six slashes on each side of the fish. Pat the fish dry using paper towels and sprinkle with the salt. Marinate for ten minutes. Lightly dredge both sides of the fish with cornflour.
Heat the 1 L of oil in a wok or large frying pan to 180°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Add the fish and deep-fry for four to five minutes until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the fish from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Add the garlic and ginger to the remaining oil in the wok, add pork, and stir-fry over medium heat for one minute until fragrant. Sprinkle in the wine, then stir in the pickled chillies, chilli bean paste, mushrooms, fungus, soy sauce and sugar.
Add 350 ml boiling water and bring to a boil. Add the fish, reduce to medium heat, cover, and simmer for about five minutes until cooked
through. Flip over and cook for another five minutes until cooked through. Transfer the fish to a serving plate.
Bring the sauce in the wok to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for two to three minutes until the sauce has reduced. Finally, stir in the vinegar, white pepper, spring onions and sesame oil. Pour the sauce over the fish, garnish with spring onions and red chilli, if using.
Serves four.
Edited extract and images from China: The Cookbook by Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan. Published by Phaidon Press. 

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