Sichuan fish – pan fried dry style

This one is modeled after one of my favorite Sichuan dishes – spicy boiled fish. Rather than a bubbling pot, this one is a quick affair cooked up in a frying pan; speaking of which I like to use a stainless steel pan to develop some nice char and crisp. Of course, a wok and high heat gas cooking would probably be traditional but I don’t have either.

Pan fried Sichuan style fish

Pan fried white fish with Sichuan flavors

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British, Chinese
Servings: 2
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp MSG
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • white fish like cod or sablefish
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine vinegar (or mirin in a pinch)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp red chile flakes
  1. Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan until they begin to get aromatic. Don't burn. Trasnsfer to a bowl and grind into a powder.

  2. Add white pepper and MSG to same bow. Set aside until end of cooking.

  3. Chop jalapeno, green onions and cilantro. Set aside.

  4. Add canola oil to pan, add crushed garlic cloves and thinly sliced shallot. Gently fry in oil until garlic starts to turn golden. Dont cook too high, burnt garlic is no fun. Once toasted, transfer to plate with a paper towel. Set aside.

  5. Take your choice of whitefish and begin cooking in the reserved oil you cooked the garlic in. Cook until fish is almost cooked. I like to break it down into quite small pieces as it cooks so the seasonings have more surface area to coat.

  6. With fish almost ready, add jalapeno, green onions and cilantro to pan. Cook for one minute at medium high heat.

  7. Add reserved toasted garlic and shalot. Cook for one minute.

  8. Add soy sauce and Shaoxing. Cook thirty seconds then add reserved powders. Add sesame oil, stir, cook for 10 seconds. Plate with red chilli flakes on top.

In the recipe above I am using sable fish, a high fat white fish which holds up to the high heat cooking of this dish without getting dry. You can use anything you like really, though I’d say stick to white fish ideally.

What’s key here is prep, a lot of the ingredients need careful prep work, like toasting and grinding the Sichuan peppercorns, gently toasting the garlic and shallots. The result is an explosive hit of chills and garlic brought together with the electric zing of Sichuan peppercorns.

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