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Monday, November 8, 2010

Braised Fish with Hot Bean Paste (Allen and Nirelle)

1 1/2 pounds fish

1 Tbs hot bean paste
1 Tbs each of chopped green onion, ginger root, garlic

1 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tbs white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

1Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs water

3 Tbs chopped green onion

If using a whole fish make diagonal cuts along spine to allow sauce to permeate fish.
Heat wok and add 4 T oil. Swirl oil around wok. Fry fish until golden on both sides, then remove and set aside.

Add more oil to wok if necessary. Stir fry (A) until fragrant. Return fish to wok.

Add (B), cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Remove fish and reduce sauce to about half the original volume. Add (C) and stir. Add green onion and drizzle over fish.

The original recipe calls for whole carp but who wants to eat carp. I have made it successfully with haddock and tilapia. Sea bass or stripped bass would be good, too. I have made this recipe for the two of us and used half portions and that worked fine.

The fish is actually boiled after frying. Be careful not to overcook the fish. If the fish is whole and thick, it may have to be turned half way through so that it is evenly cooked. And the boiling time has to be adjusted accordingly. For example the recipe calls for boiling a whole carp (ugly!) for eight minutes, but for the thin fish such as telapia, four minutes is plenty. If you are not careful the fish will disintegrate as you lift it out of the wok and the result will be fish sauce, not whole fish topped with a wonderful, aromatic gravy. That's ok too. Just dump it unceremoniously over pasta and serve it to such children you may have who are as yet naive.

Typically hot bean paste is labeled as "with Chili" not as "hot".

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