The carp enjoys a favoured place among aquatic foods in Chinese cuisine. As long ago as the Zhou Dynasty in the tenth century b.c. carp was “domesticated,“ that is, reared in ponds and bred selectively. Today, every farmer tries to maintain a fish pond where the carp thrives in circumstances that would weaken and kill other fish. Small wonder that the carp is a symbol of vigour, endurance, and strength. It is also a sign of respect, so he used.
“Red cooking” means braising with a strong, reddish sauce. The technique is usually applied to meat but it works well with any fresh, firm white fish.
Soak the tangerine or citrus peel for 20 minutes in warm water or until it is soft. Rinse under running water, squeeze out any excess liquid, finely chop, and set aside.
Make three or four slashes on each side of the fish to help it cook faster and allow the flavours to penetrate. Rub the fish on both sides with the salt. Sprinkle the cornflour evenly on each side of the fish.
Heat a wok or deep frying pan until hot. Add the oil, and when it is hot, deep-fry the fish on each side for 5 to 8 minutes until it is brown and crispy. Remove the fish and drain on kitchen paper.
Pour off most of the oil, leaving 2 tablespoons, and reheat the wok or pan. Add the chopped tangerine peel, garlic, ginger, and spring onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Put in the rest of the ingredients. Return the fish to the pan, spooning the ingredients over the top of the fish. Cover and cook over low heat for 8 minutes. When the fish is cooked, carefully remove it to a serving platter, and serve at once.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.