I have adapted this dish from Fuchsia Dunlop’s excellent book Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking and from Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook. There are a few differences, I used oil instead of lard and I did not like the vinegar taste associated with the request for Chinese Black Vinegar or rice vinegar. I also used catfish fillets and not the whole catfish. Catfish fillets are much easier to find in a local grocery store. Serves 4 • 4 catfish fillets. These can be bought at most local markets • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine or sherry • 1 teaspoon salt • 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled but whole • 1/3 vegetable oil • 4 tablespoons Chinese red chile bean paste • 3 tablespoons minced ginger • 2-3 cups chicken stock • 1 tablespoon soy sauce • 1 tablespoon sugar • 1 tablespoon corn starch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water • 5 green onions, chopped
1. Marinate catfish fillets with the Shaoxing wine and salt for 1 hour. 2. Heat the oil in a deep sided pan or wok over medium heat and gently cook the garlic cloves until they are a little wrinkly on the outside, but still white. Do not let them brown. Set the cooked garlic aside. 3. Turn the heat to high. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, and when the oil is hot, fry the fish in batches for 2 minutes per side. Set the fish aside. 4. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Cook the chile bean paste in the oil for 30 seconds, stirring often. Add the ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds. 5. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce and sugar. Put the fish in the pan and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down to a gently simmer and cook the fish 6 minutes. 6. Flip the fish over and add the garlic. Cook another 6 minutes. 7. Remove the fish and garlic to a platter and turn up the heat on the sauce. Boil the sauce furiously until it has been reduced by 1/3, about 3-4 minutes. 8. Stir the corn starch with the 3 tablespoons of water and into the sauce. Let this boil 1 minute. 9. Turn off the heat, add the green onions and the vinegar, and pour the sauce over the fish. Serve immediately.