White Water Fish

Bak Soi Yue

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

The Chinese Banquet Cookbook

The Chinese Banquet Cookbook

By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

Published 1985

  • About

This is called white water, as were the shrimp, because it is cooked, or poached, in boiling, bubbling, “white” water. This preparation is native to Suzhou, near Shanghai. There, a fish called Ching Yue, or a toothed green fish like a carp, is used. There are of course no green fish here, so I make this Suzhou dish with sea bass.


  • 3 quarts cold water

“White Water” ingredients

  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
  • 3 scallions: wash, discard ends, cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 whole sea bass, 1½ to 1¾ pounds: clean and wash well, remove all membranes, dry thoroughly
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons shredded ginger
  • 2 scallions: wash, dry, discard all green portions, shred white portions into 1½-inch pieces

To make the sauce combine in a bowl

  • tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white wine
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. In an oval Dutch oven bring 3 quarts water to a boil and add all “White Water” ingredients. Boil over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Place the fish in the liquid, cover, and turn off heat. Let fish sit for 10 minutes. Remove fish, place in a serving dish, and discard the other ingredients.
  2. Heat a wok over high heat and add peanut oil. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add ginger and scallions. Stir briefly, then add sauce. Bring to a boil. Turn heat off, add sesame oil, mix well, and pour contents of wok over fish. Serve immediately.