This exquisite fish dish mirrors the refinements of the cuisine of the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), a period when people's eating habits mirrored their social position. Although the distinction between the cooking styles and ingredients of the rich and the poor was not as marked as in the Western world, the rich had access to more variety and specialties.
This dish calls for a white-fleshed fish of superb quality and freshness, and the wine must be the finest Shaoxing rice wine available. It is a dish that originated in Beijing (Peking) and does justice to claims of the citizens of Beijing (Peking) that their food, when properly understood, is "like a beautiful young girl who does not need jewelry or makeup."
- 10 ounces white fish fillets, such as sea perch, porgy, snapper, sole, orange roughy
- For the Marinade:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 egg white
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons wood ear fungus (wun yee) (available at Chinese stores), soaked for 20 minutes in warm water, rinsed and drained
- For the Seasoning:
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup Family Chicken Broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- Cilantro sprig, for garnish
Companion recipe: Family Chicken Broth
Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch square pieces. Combine the fish marinade ingredients, add the fish pieces and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
Simmer the wood ear fungus in the chicken broth for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
Mix the seasoning ingredients together.
Coat a skillet with the peanut oil and heat to moderately hot but not smoking. Pan-fry the fish pieces for 2 minutes on each side; the fish should be removed before any browning. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour off the excess oil from the pan. Add the seasoning mixture and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Return the fish pieces to the pan and gently simmer for 2 minutes.
Serve on a heated dish, surrounded by the wood ear fungus and garnished with the cilantro.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
484 calories; 42g total fat; 69mg cholesterol; 727mg sodium; 6g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 17g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.