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sichuan boiled fish (shui zhu yu, 水煮鱼)


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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Servings: 3

Cost: $17.98 /serving


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Step 1

Cut the fish into ¼-inch thick slices at a 45-degree angle. The goal is to get pieces of fish with a lot of surface area, as they’ll shrink once cooked.

Step 2

Next, marinate the fish. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, and 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine. Mix (best with your hand) everything well. Next, add the egg white and mix, followed by 1½ tablespoons cornstarch. Mix until the marinade starts to feel “slimy,” for lack of a better term. Finally, drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the top--there’s no need to mix it in, just drizzle it over the surface. Put the fish in the refrigerator, and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Step 3

The active cooking time takes less than 10 minutes, so make sure the rest of the ingredients are prepped while the fish is marinating, and that you’re ready to eat right afterwards, because this dish is best served immediately.

Step 4

In a wok set over high heat, add the chicken stock, water, ginger, garlic, scallions, ¼ teaspoon of white pepper, and 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine. Bring it to a boil. Now is a good time to add salt to taste. Next, add the bean sprouts, and bring to a boil once more. Cook for one minute. Now turn down the heat. Using a fine-meshed strainer, spider, or large slotted spoon, scoop all of the solids out of the soup and transfer to a heat proof serving bowl. It’s very important that your serving vessel be heat-proof, as you’ll be pouring very hot oil into it later.

Step 5

Now, in a small pot, slowly heat up ½ - ¾ cup oil. It doesn’t have to be exact, but you should use at least a ½ cup. To test whether the oil is heated to the correct temperature, dip a wooden/bamboo chopstick into the oil and look for small bubbles forming around it, but no smoke. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot!

Step 6

When the oil is heating, bring the soup back to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Place your fish, one piece at a time, into the soup. Once all the fish is in the soup, turn up the heat and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, immediately pour everything (fish and soup) on top of the vegetables in the serving bowl.

Step 7

Quickly sprinkle the dried chili peppers and the green Sichuan peppercorns evenly over the fish, and pour the heated oil evenly over everything. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle the chili and the peppercorns, but not hot enough to burn the spices. Serve immediately!

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