Recipe: Sichuanese Braised Fish with Tofu(豆腐烧鱼)

Braised Fish with Tofu(豆腐烧鱼 dou fu shao yu, pronounced “doh foo sholl yee”)is a common homestyle dish in Sichuan Province. It is flavored with the Fermented Chili and Fava Bean Paste from Pi County that Sichuanese people use in many other recipes, such as Mapo Tofu. The tofu and fish go well together with the sauce.
I will admit, I do not like whole fish myself. This is because of the small bones inside the fish. They make it very challenging to eat, and as a result I usually only eat the tofu. My parents love whole fish (my mom buys a whole fish almost weekly – I will be introducing a steamed fish recipe sometime as well), so they eat all of the fish 🙂

If you do like whole fish, I strongly recommend this recipe. If you are a vegetarian (or if you don’t like fish), you can even make this recipe with only tofu. Just cut all other ingredients in half to account for the lack of fish 🙂

Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop

Ingredients for Fish Preparation:

1 whole fish, 0.75 to 1.5 lb (adjust the seasonings based on fish size) (carp is used in Sichuan, bass is fine, we use snapper)

a little salt and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

Fish Preparation:

1. Remove scales of fish and make shallow slashes with a knife on both sides of fish if you wish (these will help flavor penetrate the fish, but this is optional).

2. Rub the fish with salt and Shaoxing wine, then set it aside while preparing other ingredients.

Rest of the Ingredients:

1 block tofu (about 1 lb), cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

1.5 tbsp minced or 2 tbsp finely julienned ginger

1 tbsp minced or 2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic

cooking oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced, separate green and white parts

2 tbsp fermented chili and fava bean paste from Pi County(郫县豆瓣)

1.5 to 2 cups Chinese stock or chicken stock (no sodium preferred) or water

1 tsp dark soy sauce

2 tsp fermented sweet flour paste(甜面酱)

2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water into a slurry

1 tsp Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang or Baoning vinegar)


1. Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tbsp oil.

2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then add it into the wok. Be careful of splattering! Hold a lid to protect yourself.

3. Fry a couple minutes on each side over high heat until golden.

4. When done, take the fish out and set on a plate.

5. Add more oil so there is about 2 tbsp oil in the wok.

6. Add chili bean paste and fry over medium heat for 30 seconds until oil is fragrant and red.

7. Add ginger, garlic, and white part of green onions. Stir-fry 30 more seconds, increasing heat to high.

8. Add stock/water and soy sauce.

9. Gently place the fish into the wok. Bring to a boil over high heat.

10. Add the Shaoxing wine and sweet flour paste, gently stir to mix.

11. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer 5 minutes. Flip over the fish and simmer 5 more minutes. If your fish is smaller than 1 lb, decrease the simmering time.

12. Place the tofu slices around the fish, turn heat to high, and cook 2 more minutes.

13. Gently remove the fish to a serving plate. Make sure it is large and deep enough to fit everything.

14. Mix the starch and water slurry, then add to the wok, along with the green part of the green onions. Adjust the amount of slurry depending on the sauce left. If very little sauce is left, add more water. Stir well and bring to a boil to thicken.

15. Lastly, turn off the heat, stir in the vinegar, and pour the sauce and tofu over the fish. It is ready to serve!

Serve with rice and a green vegetable dish. Enjoy!


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