Although I can be a bit picky with some sauces that I prefer to make them from scratch, I am not averse to using products straight out of a jar. This Chinese-style fried fish with black beans and chili sauce was cooked by combining two Lee Kum Kee sauces. No, this is NOT a sponsored post. I just happen to be a fan of Lee Kum Kee products.
What Lee Kum Kee sauces? Black Bean Garlic Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce. I simply fried a whole fish then poured the mixed sauces over it.
Just like that? Mix the sauces from the jars and pour over the fried fish? Well, no. Had I simply stirred the two sauces together, the result would have been too thick and not pourable at all. And the sauce would have been much too salty too. The mixture of sauces was diluted and other seasonings were added for balance. Sauteed mushrooms, bell pepper and scallions went on top of the fish too.
What does the dish taste like? Oh, beautiful. To say salty and spicy would be doing it an injustice. Black beans are salty but we’re talking fermented black beans here which are salty with a unique depth and richness. The chili garlic sauce packs some heat but not in an overwhelming way. The mixed sauce that went over the fish was red and golden and brownish, and the the unusual hue enticed the eyes. And the flavor? So complex that anyone who did not see how it was prepared would have a hard time guessing what was in it.
What about the fish? What fish is good for this dish? I used white snapper but any firm and fleshy fish should be good. Just make sure to season it well. Sprinkling flour all over it prior to frying helps make a wonderful crisp crust.
It’s funny that I wasn’t even planning on posting a recipe for this dish. When I started cooking it, I wasn’t very hopeful. I had a lovely fish but only odds and ends from the fridge to go with it. A few stalks of scallions, a lone red bell pepper, some leftover mushrooms that were literally begging to be cooked because they would soon be past their prime.
I wanted something different from all the other fish recipes in the past but I wasn’t all that sure how to accomplish that with the not-so-inspiring collection of odds and ends. But then, you know, the shelves of the door of our fridge are lined with bottles and jars of sauces and condiments. It took me only half a minute to decide which to throw together.
When the dish was done, Alex (who had been helping me with the prepping) exclaimed, “Mommy, it’s so pretty!” Oh, that made me smile. Yes, the dish is so pretty with the richly-colored sauce and the vegetables with their Christmassy colors. More importantly, it was so good that we were spooning the sauce over our rice. Who’d have imagined it would come out that way? Sometimes, I get so lucky.
Chinese-style Fried Fish With Black Beans and Chili Sauce
- 1 whole fish (about 800 grams), gutted and scaled
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 to 4 cups cooking oil for frying
- 3 to 4 stalks scallions thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper roughly chopped
- 4 to 5 shittake mushrooms (caps only) thinly sliced
- 1 heaping tablespoon black bean garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee)
- 1 heaping tablespoon chili garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch or corn or potato starch
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Rinse the fish. Pat dry with paper towels. Score both sides and rub with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour on both sides.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan until smoke floats on the surface. Plunge the floured fish into the hot oil. Cook over high heat for five minutes. Flip the fish over and cook for another four minutes. Scoop out and arrange on a serving plate.
Pour off the oil from the wok or frying pan, leaving only about a tablespoonful.
Reheat the oil. Saute the white and light green portions of the scallions, bell pepper and mushrooms with salt and pepper for about half a minute.
In a bowl, stir together the black bean garlic sauce, chili garlic sauce, grated ginger, sugar, tapioca starch and sesame seed oil with 1 and 1/4 cups water. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook, stirring, until no longer cloudy. Simmer for two to three minutes.
Pour the sauce and vegetables over the fish. Garnish with the dark green portion of the scallions.
Serve the Chinese-style fried fish with black beans and chili sauce at once. Best with rice on the side.