Credit: Jing Gao in "The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp"
This dish is incredibly warming and delicious and is a perfect main course for a lunar New Year feast or for any kind of special occasion that impresses but is not terribly difficult to achieve. The quality of doubanjiang you use is important here, since it's the main event and gives the fish and the tofu its deeply layered umami flavor. I like to use the three-year-old fermented doubanjiang we sell at Fly By Jing, but if you can find regular unaged Pixian doubanjiang, it will do the job as well. The tofu adds visual and textural interest but can be omitted if you want to skip a step.
Makes 4 servings
- 1 (1- to 2-lb / /450 to 900g) whole fish (such as sea bass or flounder), scaled and cleaned
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 14 oz / 400g semi-soft tofu
- 3 Tbsp neutral oil
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil
- ¼ cup / 60ml
- 2 Tbsp Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp
- 2 Tbsp finely minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
- 3 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 cups / 480ml vegetable stock or bone broth
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp water
- ½ tsp black vinegar:
- 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
- Make a few shallow diagonal cuts on each side of the fish, then place it in a shallow dish. Rub the fish with salt, pour in the wine, and let the fish marinate for 20 minutes.
- Carefully cut the tofu block in half and then into slices about ⅛ inches / 0.5cm thick. You can do so without taking the tofu out of the box it came in. Boil some water and pour over the tofu, submerging it in the container. Set aside.
- Remove the fish from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Add the oil in a wok over high heat and heat until smoking.
- Add the fish and quickly fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes until the skin crisps up. Remove the fish from the wok and set it aside. Discard the oil.
- To make the sauce: Heat the fresh oil in the wok over medium heat until sizzling. Add the doubanjiang and chili crisp and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant and the oil is red. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions, frying until fragrant. Pour in the stock, add the sugar and soy sauce, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Slide the fish carefully back into the wok and gently spoon the sauce over it. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the wok, and cook for 10 minutes, flipping the fish over halfway through.
- Mix cornstarch with water and stir into the sauce until it thickens, about a minute.
- Transfer the fish to a serving dish, drain the tofu and gently drape the pieces over the fish like a blanket, and serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro.