Dry-braised sea bream

“Dry-braising is a speciality of the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu. It involves simmering the main ingredient in a rich sauce until the liquid reduces to a syrupy glaze.”

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus marinating
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes 25 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 sea bream (about 500g), cleaned and scaled
1 tsp cornflour
6 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 salad onions, white parts shredded
1 x ½ red pepper, cut into strips
1-2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
200ml chicken stock
1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Marinade

1 x ¼ tsp salt
1 x ½ tbsp shaoxing rice wine
3cm fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced

Method

1. To marinate, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts on both sides of the fish. Rub inside and out with the salt and wine, and put the ginger in its belly; set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Discard the ginger from the fish; pat dry. Rub the cornflour into the cuts. Heat 2 tbsp groundnut oil in a wok over a high heat and sprinkle with a little salt to prevent sticking. Fry the fish for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until golden. Set aside.

3. Discard the oil and wipe the wok clean. Add the remaining oil and, over a medium heat, stir-fry the chilli bean sauce until the oil is red and fragrant, then stir in the ginger, garlic, onions, pepper and chilli, if using. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

4. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add the wine and sugar, then slide the fish into the wok. Simmer for 6-7 minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish and turning it once, until the fish is cooked and the sauce is syrupy.

5. Ease the fish onto a serving dish. Stir the sesame oil into the sauce and pour over the fish, then serve.