The original recipe, found in a cookbook (whose title I can no longer recall) more than a decade ago, uses pork and the dish is called Sichuan pork. The recipe is equally good with fish and boneless chicken.
Fish fillets with sichuan pepper and hoisin sauce
- Lay the fish fillet flat on a chopping board. It’s okay if it’s a little wet. The little water will help the flour or starch stick to it better. Cut the fish fillet into strips about half and inch thick.
- With a mortar and pestle, grind a teaspoonful of sichuan pepper. Add to the fish. Season the fish with about a teaspoonful of salt. Mix the fish, sichuan pepper and salt together to season the fish evenly.
- Add about half a cup of flour or tapioca (or corn) starch to the seasoned fish. Toss together the fish and flour/starch, separating fish strips that may stick together to make sure that all sides of every piece of fish is coated with flour/starch.
- Heat about 2 cups of cooking oil in a wok until it starts to smoke. Fry the fish in batches. Add the floured fish, one at a time, and cooking only enough pieces in a batch to make sure that the pan is not overcrowded.
- Fry the fish strips until lightly golden, turning them over halfway through for even cooking. Repeat with another batch until all the fish is cooked. As each batch of fish is cooked, place in a plate or shallow bowl lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
- When the fish is done, spread about 2 tablespoonfuls of hoisin sauce at the bottom of a clean pan. You can use the pan where you cooked the fish but make sure to pour off the oil. Turn the heat to medium and heat the hoisin sauce until bubbly. Watch the sauce -- it contains a lot of sugar so it burns fast. As soon as the sauce bubbles, turn off the heat.
- Take the fried fish strips, add to the heated hoisin sauce in the pan and, working fast, toss to coat each fish strip with hoisin sauce. What you're aiming for is to have uniformly coated fish strips rather than have some with too much sauce leaving others with too little.
- Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on the fish and, again working fast, toss, stir or shake -- or toss, stir AND shake -- to coat the fish strips with sesame seeds evenly.
- Transfer the cooked with sichuan pepper and hoisin sauce to a serving platter and serve at once.