Spicy Fish Soup


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

China: A Cookbook


By Terry Tan

Published 2020

  • About

A Guizhou staple, this soup of monkfish or cod with crisp garlic makes a light but aromatic first course. Any type of firm-fleshed fish can be used, but monkfish is particularly good, as it has the texture of chicken and no tiny bones to worry about. The spicing comes from the famous Sichuan peppercorns, known for their liquorice flavour and subtle fire, as well as the liberal quantity of garlic.


  • 200 g/7 oz firm-fleshed fish fillet, such as monkfish or cod, membrane or skin removed
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp groundnut/peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 800 ml/ pints/scant cups boiling water
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp finely ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • small bunch of watercress or shredded lettuce leaves


    1. Cut the fish into 5 mm/¼ in-thick slices. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan and fry the garlic slices until golden brown. Lift out the garlic using a slotted spoon and set aside. In the remaining oil, fry the crushed garlic for 30 seconds until golden brown.
    2. Add the boiling water to the pan and then add the fish, soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorns. Return to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes, then add the watercress or lettuce and simmer for 1 minute or until the fish is cooked. Serve garnished with the fried garlic.