Small Fried Fish
As the story goes, during the Ming dynasty, Wang Yangming, a famous intellectual, was stationed in the city of Ganzhou when he hired a local cook named Ling. Wang loved to eat fish, in particular the local grass carp, which Ling tried to cook in different ways. Once, he decided to cook it with "little wine", as vinegar is called in Chinese. Wang Yangming loved the unusual taste of the dish, and when he asked Ling for its name, Ling apparently got nervous and replied "little fried fish" - forgetting the word "wine". Since then, this dish of grass carp with vinegar has been known as "little fried fish".
Little fried fish has since become a specialty of Jiangxi cuisine. It's a rather simple dish to make and extremely tasty. My husband and I both enjoyed it very much.
Getting grass carp commercially is, of course, impossible in California - though it's available for fishing in other parts of the United States and the world. I substituted with catfish, instead, the only white-flesh river fresh water fish that I can easily get at the supermarket. The recipe I followed wasn't too exact about measurements, but the ones below worked well.
Small Fried Fish
- 1 1/2 lbs grass carp or another freshwater fish fillets
- salt to taste
- 3 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp black soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp potato or corn starch
- ~3 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 2" ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- Asian chili powder / red pepper flakes to taste.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp chicken stock concentrate or bouillon cube
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" x 1" slices
- 1 bunch chives or 3 green onions, cut into 1" portions
Rinse and pat dry fish fillets, debone them and cut them into bite-size chunks. Transfer it to a large bowl.
Add salt, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and 1 Tbsp starch. Mix well.
In a wok or frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as to not crowd the fish, add the fish and deep fry for a couple of minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Mix remaining 1/4 tsp starch with 2 Tbsp water and set aside.
Pour out all but a thin layer of oil from the wok. Return to medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and pepper flakes to taste, cook for a minute. Return the fish to the wok and stir fry until the water has evaporated. Add the balsamic vinegar, chicken stock concentrate and starch water. Add the bell pepper and chives and cook until the water has evaporated again. Serve.
Adapted from a recipe at Inews
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