Stir-Fried Fish with Black Bean Sauce


My mother loved making this dish because it was quick, easy and delicious. The pungency of the black beans, garlic and ginger turn an ordinary fish into a gourmet’s delight. When served with vegetables and rice, it becomes the type of light, wholesome, satisfying meal that is the hallmark of the best Chinese home cooking.


  • 450 g (1 lb) fresh, firm white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut or sea bass
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • tablespoons coarsely chopped black beans
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the Garnish

  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions


Cut the fish fillets into strips 2.5-cm (1-in) wide and sprinkle the salt evenly over them. Let them stand for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat down to medium and add the fish strips. Stir-fry these gently for about 2 minutes or until they are brown on both sides, taking care not to break them up. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Drain off all but tablespoons of the oil.

Re-heat the wok. When it is hot, add the black beans, garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauces, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Return the fish to the wok and gently finish cooking in the sauce for about 1 minute. Then add the sesame oil and give the mixture a good stir. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the fish on a warm serving platter, garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.