Dubai: A distinct aroma of fried fish fills a busy kitchen at Hutong, one of the famous Chinese fine-dining restaurants in Dubai. As Chef Dingxu Ren, the head chef, skillfully cooks the fish, his team of junior chefs swiftly pass him the ingredients and dutifully clear his workspace.
Sea Bass is a common fish used for steaming in Chinese cooking, but Chef Ren's recipe calls for marinating the fish and pan-searing it to perfection, topped with some crispy fried strands of leek.
The chef from the Michelin-recognised restaurant, which serves Northern Chinese cuisine, explained how home cooks can recreate the recipe at home.
For marinating the seabass
150 gms seabass fillet
0.5 gm white pepper powder
2 gms ginger juice
2 gms corn starch
1 gm salt
For preserved vegetable sauce
50 ml water
20 ml sunflower oil
100 gms oyster mushrooms (diced)
50 gms red onions
50 gms green chilies (chopped)
50 gms red chili (chopped)
10 gms preserved vegetable (or Chinese pickled vegetables available at Asian supermarkets)
5 gms Sichuan broad bean sauce (available at Asian supermarkets)
1 gm cornstarch
5 gms minced ginger
5 gms minced garlic
5 gms oyster sauce
2 gms chicken stock powder
2 gms thick chicken broth
2 gms sugar
2 gms vinegar
2 gms spring onion (chopped)
3 gms Chinese celery
1 ml Sichuan peppercorn oil
2 ml sesame oil
To marinate the seabass:
1. Score the seabass fillet and place it in the middle of a pan.
2. Add salt, ginger juice, white pepper powder and coat lightly with corn starch or potato starch. Adding the starch helps retain the water in the fish. Now, gently massage fish for two minutes and leave it to marinate for 30 minutes.
To prepare the preserved vegetable sauce:
1. Preheat a wok, add oil, then add the oyster mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms are soft
2. Add the chopped onions, Sichuan preserved vegetable, broad bean paste, green chili, red chili, minced ginger, minced garlic, and chopped green onions. Sauté all the ingredients.
3. Add some water, and put chicken broth, chicken powder, sugar, oyster sauce to season the fish.
4. Lastly, add balsamic vinegar, Sichuan peppercom oil, sesame oil, chopped green onion, and Chinese celery.
5. Cook till the water reduces and the mixture has a sauce-like consistency (please refer to the video for visual guidance).
To deep fry shredded leek
Shred the leek, coat with cornstarch, control the oil temperature at 170-180 degrees, and fry until it is slightly crispy.
To cook the seabass
1. Preheat the frying pan and some oil, add ginger slices, spring onions.
2. Pan-sear the seabass for four minutes until both sides are slightly fried.
Time to plate: Place the seabass on a plate, layer the preserved vegetable sauce on the fish and place the crispy leek on top and enjoy hot.