This dish is based on one served at the celebrated Poons Restaurant on Leicester Street in Soho’s Chinatown. They would be shocked by my addition of butter, which is not terribly Cantonese, but it adds a last luxurious touch to the rather astringent flavour of the soy.
Sea bass is well suited to this treatment, and so are sole, turbot halibut and brill. This is one recipe, however, where you cannot substitute cheaper, flakier fish like cod or plaice, because they would just break up.
You will need to use two frying pans, if you want to cook enough for four. However, as the final stages must be seamless and have to be got right first time, I suggest here making it a meal for two. Note that I have specified using the frying pan and not a wok because it is more practical.
First prepare the fish: slice the sea bass fillets across at an angle of 30 degrees to produce escalopes weighing about
Prepare the vegetables: blanch the spinach in a large pan of boiling salted water for 30–45 seconds, drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again and squeeze out the water gently. Fluff up the cooked leaves – the spinach must not be a compressed lump • Cut the carrot and spring onions into julienne strips.
Combine the lemon juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Peel the ginger and grate it into this mixture • Slice the garlic into thin slivers • Cut the chilled butter into cubes about 5mm / ¼ in across • Put the flour on a plate.
Holding Point – you are now ready to cook and everything can be held in the fridge for several hours.
Once you’ve started this stage, you can’t stop until you finish. Coat the fish pieces in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in the pan over a high heat.
Place the floured escalopes carefully in the oil in a single layer without any overlapping and immediately turn the heat down to moderate.
Cook for 1 minute and then turn the escalopes over. Immediately add the spinach, vegetable julienne, the garlic and the soy mix.
Turn the heat back to high and add the pieces of butter to the liquid areas of the pan. Swirl until it melts and incorporates.
Serve at once on warmed plates.
© 1993 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.