Year of the Ox

Chinese Braised Fish

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Trout (about 1kg, descaled and cleaned)
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons Wilson’s Avocado Oil
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 3 scallions (cut into 2-inch pieces)
  • 3/4 cup shaoxing wine (This is an essential ingredient and can be found in Chinese Markets, however if you need a substitute, look at dry cooking sherry / Chinese rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce

Method:

Using paper towels, pat the fish dry thoroughly. Wrap the fish in fresh paper towels while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. The aim is to make the fish as dry as absolutely possible. Use a sharp knife to score both sides of the fish three times.

Once the prep work is done, unwrap the fish and dust it with a thin, even layer of cornstarch on both sides. (This step will help keep the skin together during pan-frying)

Heat the wok until it starts to smoke, and immediately add Wilson’s Avocado Oil and ginger slices. Reduce the heat to medium. Once the ginger slices start to brown, remove them from the wok and set aside.

Carefully lay the fish in the wok (Do not touch or move the fish for the next 5 minutes! This is an extremely important step. You can tilt the wok around so the oil glides around to evenly brown the fish)

After 5 minutes, shake the wok slightly to see if the fish has seared enough to stop sticking to the wok. This is when you can carefully flip the fish over and do the same process for the other side.

Once both sides are nicely browned, add the ginger back to the wok along with the scallions, shaoxing wine, sugar, vinegar, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce.

Keep the heat at medium low and cook the fish by continuously spooning the cooking liquid over the fish. Cook on each side for 4-5 minutes. The sauce should now be cooked down and almost syrupy and can now be served.

If you want to make sure the fish is done, carefully pick apart the thickest part of the fish. If the meat readily comes apart from the bone, it’s done. You can plate it so that the hole you made is facing down.

Note: Fish means an increase of prosperity. Fish should be the last dish left. Serving two fish and having one left over to eat the following day is a sign of there being surplus every year. The head and the tail of the fish shouldn’t be eaten until the beginning of the year.

On the table, the head should be placed toward distinguished guests or elders. This is a sign of respect. Everyone can eat the fish after the one facing the fishes head eats first. The fish shouldn’t be moved and the two people who face the head and tail of the fish should drink together, as this is considered to have a lucky meaning.

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