Sautéed Fillet of Sole with Green Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

Don’t be put off by the thought of eating cooked fish bones. As long as you have cooked them until they are really, really crispy, you can munch them rather like the deep-fried Bombay duck you have in Indian restaurants. I can assure you that when my Chinese chums at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong cooked me this, it was delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2–2¼lb) Dover sole, or two smaller ones
  • A little plain flour
  • Sunflower or groundnut oil for deep-frying
  • Cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon egg white
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped tangerine peel
  • 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
  • A pinch of sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • ½ teaspoon black bean sauce

Method

Carefully fillet the sole (or, better still, ask your fishmonger to skin and fillet it for you), keeping the skeleton of the fish in one piece. Dust the skeleton with plain flour and deep-fry in about 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) hot oil until crisp and golden brown – about 3-4 minutes. The skeleton should be very crisp so that it can be eaten. The Chinese really like this – I’ve tried it and it is good. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

Skin the fillets of sole. Cut the fish into 2.5 cm (1 inch) strips and mix with a generous sprinkling of cornflour and a little egg white. Deep-fry the fish pieces in 2.5 cm (1 inch) hot oil for 1 minute. Drain thoroughly.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan and sauté the ginger, garlic, black bean paste and tangerine peel for a couple of minutes.

Add the stock and rice wine or sherry. Pop in the sugar, salt and oyster and black bean sauces. Stir well. Mix ½ teaspoon cornflour with 1 tablespoon water, then stir this into the sauce. Cook, stirring until thickened, add the pieces of sole and cook quickly until hot.

Pile the sole on to the crisp fried skeleton and serve at once.

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