Zao Liu Yu Pian

Stir-Fried Fish Fillets With Cloud Ears a Nd Cucumbers

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as Part of a Chinese Meal, or 2 as a Single Dish.

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Students of Chinese cuisine know, and countless of its recipes illustrate, that China could be called the land of mushrooms. The commercial cultivation of mushrooms began in China around the mid-seventh century, about one thousand years before European cultivation began in France. There are about three hundred kinds of mushrooms to be found in China; eighty-three of these varieties are known to be poisonous. Since it is impossible to identify with certainty some of the poisonous mushrooms except by their effects, one hesitates to speculate on how the Chinese managed over the centuries to differentiate them so successfully. In any event, mushrooms are among the most popular foods in China with enough production to export more mushrooms than any other country.

In this recipe, which I learned from the proprietor of a small restaurant in Kunming, Yunnan, “cloud ears”, a smaller version of the popular wood ear fungus, lend their subtle earthy flavour and distinctive texture to the dish.

The crunchy cucumbers add another texture and complement the delicately flavoured fillets. In China, I enjoyed this dish made with fresh carp fillets but any firm, white-fleshed fish will work as well.

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  • 700 g/ lb thick-cut fillets of any firm, white-fleshed fish such as cod, halibut, scrod or red snapper, or 800 g/ lb fish steaks on the bone
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 25 g/1 oz cloud ear fungus
  • 225 g/8 oz cucumber, about 1
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped peeled garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger root
  • tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 225 ml/8 fl oz chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 1 teaspoon water


Cut the fillets into 5 cm/2 in long and 25 mm/1 in wide pieces. Put them into a bowl with the salt, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and cornflour and mix well. Let the fillets marinate for 1 hour.

Soak the cloud ear fungus in warm water for at least 15 minutes. Rinse them several times in cold running water to remove any sand. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

Peel the cucumber, slice it in half lengthways, and remove any seeds. Cut the halves into 5 cm/2 in long and 25 mm/1 in wide pieces. Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot and add 2 tablespoons of • oil. Put in the fish pieces and fry them until they are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly on kitchen paper.

Reheat the wok or pan and add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot, add the cloud ear fungus, cucumber, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the rice wine or sherry, soy sauces, and chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cornflour mixture and stir. Return the fish pieces to the wok and cook gently until the fish is heated through. Ladle onto a platter and serve with rice.