Recipe: Mandarin-Style Fish with Ginger-Garlic Sauce
Of all Suzhou's famous dishes, Mandarin "Squirrel" Fish is one of the most intriguing. However its preparation and presentation are complex. It's a whole Chinese perch with head and tail intact, and the body of the fish is cut in a cross-hatched pattern. When fried, the head and tail curl upward and the flesh fans out, causing the fish to resemble a squirrel. The finished dish is served with a ginger-garlic sauce. This recipe is a much simpler presentation.
Mandarin-Style Fish with Ginger-Garlic Sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 knob ginger root, peeled and finely shredded
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon xiaoshing (Chinese rice wine)
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
4 scallions, finely chopped
Heat peanut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for about one minute. Stir in rice wine, chili sauce, vinegar and sugar. Add chicken stock and cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Add scallions, simmer for about one minute and serve over fish.
4 firm white fish filets (catfish, snapper, halibut, etc.), cut into 2" pieces
¼ cup cornstarch
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Lightly dredge fish filets in cornstarch and set aside. Heat about 1" of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Test oil with small bits of fish until they sizzle and rise to the top. Slightly reduce heat, add fish pieces a few at a time and fry until crispy and lightly golden. Drain fish pieces on paper towels, transfer to serving plates, and serve with Ginger-Garlic Sauce.