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Red Braised Fish {Huai Yang Style Hong Shao Yu}

by Shirley
Red Braised Fish {Easy Delicious Chinese Style}

Red Braised whole fish {Hong Shao Yu 红烧鱼} with sake, soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, along with green onions and ginger is a traditional home cooking in China’s Yangtze River Delta area, home to Huai Yang cuisine. Freshly ground black pepper enhanced and completed the taste. So naturally delicious, and such a quick, easy and healthy main course.

Red Braised Fish {Huai Yang Style}
Red Braised Fish {Huai Yang Style}

White Perch Fun Facts:

Wild caught Canadian white perch is readily available in the fish market in my neighborhood. That is what I am cooking today. They have a white/silver body but dark back, and typically weigh around half pound, similar to that of butterfish. The fish I got today is on the large side. Three white perches weigh about 2 pounds, though after cleaning the net weight is around one and a half pounds.

By the way, they look very much like crucian carp, a popular fresh-water fish in the Yangtze River Delta area, and is almost as delicious as crucian carp.

Key Ingredients for Red Braised Fish: quick, easy, delicious Huai Yang Style

Red Braised Fish Ingredients

For the perch, usually you can get wild caught perch. Other than the perch, you will need following simple ingredients:

Regular {naturally aged} soy saucelight soy saucesake, freshly ground black pepper, ginger, green onion, sugar in the rawcanola oil (or other cooking oil such as avocado oil), arrowroot flour, Zhenjiang vinegar, and a cup of water for braising.

Regarding cooking wine, while I use Shaoxing wine to cook meat and poultry, I recommend using sake for cooking fish. Shaoxing wine is perfect for cooking meat and poultry, but its stronger smell may overpower the seafood. Sake, on the other side, has a refreshing subtle taste, which is perfect for the fish.

Green onion and ginger work wonderfully again together to convey the yumminess. Those two perhaps are among the most delicious and healthy herbs, and play essential roles in easy, tasty Chinese cooking.

Arrowroot flour is my go-to gluten-free, nutritious starch option. Coating the fish with a thin layer of arrowroot flour before searing the fish helps keep the fish’s skin intact and fish meat flaky. However, if you are in a time crunch, you can skip this step. Fish will still taste good, just the presentation may suffer a little.

Zhenjiang vinegar is a traditional super delicious vinegar, native to China’s Yangtze River Delta area, home to Huai Yang cuisine. Zhenjiang vinegar in this recipe is only there to elevate the flavor, but you barely taste the vinegar.

If you do like sweet and sour flavor, remember to check out Huai Yang classic Sweet and Sour Yellow Croaker recipe or Simplified Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour Fish.

I often equate Zhenjiang vinegar to balsamic vinegar. Both took years to age, and a result of ancient people’s wisdom to leverage local abundant resources (rice vs. grapes) to make something exceptional. Brussels Sprouts in sweet balsamic sauce are appetizingly yummy and healthy.

What fish is suitable for Red Braised Fish?

The general rule of thumb is that fish suitable for Steamed Fish are good for Braised Fish as well. This usually refers to fish that have tender white flaky meat, including both freshwater or seawater fish. Bass, butterfish, porgy, crucian, and perch are just a few examples.

How to cook a Red Braised Fish easy and perfect?

First thing first is that you will need a quality hard-anodized fry-pan

Pan Sear Fish for Red Braised Fish

It took me a while to find this impressive hard-anodized fry pan. They can hold high-temperature heat and offer true non-stick quality. It becomes my go-to fry-pan for making pancakes, French Creps, Pan-fried peanuts, and more.

The hard-anodized pan also helps uses less oil for cooking. Since I jump-started a healthier cooking journey a while back, I have been using this sprayer to make a homemade oil sprayer. I usually spray three squirts, about 1 teaspoon, and use this handy mini rubber spatula to further spread the oil across the pan.

Tip No. 2 is to coat the fish with a thin layer of arrowroot flour during the preparation helps sear the fish for perfect looking Red Braised Fish

After washing and rinsing the fish, pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of arrowroot flour on each side of the whole fish, or about 1 tsp for each fish, and gently rub into the fish. This step helps keep the fish’s skin intact during searing.

Coat fish with arrowroot flour

Heat the fry-pan on medium heat for 1 minute before cooking

Heat the pan properly before adding oil and start the cooking makes healthier and easier cooking.

Stir-fry the ginger and green onion for 30 seconds before adding the fish

After you properly heat the pan, stir-fry the ginger and green onion for about 30 seconds. Slide the ginger slices across the bottom of the pan to condition the pan.

Sear the fish before braising

Sear the fish, each side for about 2 minutes, and then add the seasonings onto the fish, along with 1 cup of water. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Flip the fish at 5-minute mark.

Cooking Red Braised Fish

Last but not least, if you can afford extra time on cooking, make sure you check out this classic Huai Yang Pan Fried Crucian Carp recipe. Perch looks and tastes like crucian. If you don’t have access to crucian, white perch is an excellent substitute to cook this well-liked Huai Yang traditional dish.

Pan Fried Fish {Cong Kao Ji Yu}
Pan Fried Whole Fish {Crucian with Scallion, Huai Yang Classic}
Red Braised Fish {Easy Delicious Chinese Style}

Red Braised Fish {Hong Shao Yu 红烧鱼 Huai Yang Style}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Red Braised Fish {Hong Shao Yu 红烧鱼} with sake, soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, along with green onions and ginger is a traditional home cooking in China's Yangtze River Delta area, home to Huai Yang cuisine. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and white pepper to enhance and complete the taste. So naturally delicious, and such a quick, easy and healthy main course.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. whole fish, fish that have tender white flaky meat such as bass, perch, butterfish, porgy, crucian, mullet.
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour, for coating the fish, optional, see notes
  • 10 thin slices of ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. sake
  • 2 tbsp. regular soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar, turbinado sugar preferred
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 cup of water, for braising

Instructions

  1. Gather all ingredients.
    Red Braised Fish Huai Yang Style Ingredients
  2. Cut ginger into thin slices and green onion into small pieces.
  3. Wash and rinse the fish and pat-dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of arrowroot flour onto each white perch, about 1/4 tsp on each side. Gently rub into the fish.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and heat a hard anodized fry-pan for 2 minutes.
  5. Spray 3 squirts of canola oil using a home oil sprayer, about 1 tsp. Add ginger slices and half of the green onion pieces, slide ginger slices using a slotted turner across the base of the pan for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add Perch into the pan, use the slotted turner to gently press down the fish for 1 minute.
    Pan Fry Perch first before red braising fish Huai Yang style
  7. Flip the fish and do the same thing to sear the other side of the fish for 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining items in the ingredient list - sake, regular soy sauce, light soy sauce, Zheniang vinegar (if you choose to use it) freshly ground black pepper and white pepper, sugar, and water into the pan.
    Cooking red braised fish Huai Yang Style using Perch
  9. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Flip the fish at 5 minutes mark.
  10. Toward the end of 10 minutes, the liquid in the pan is almost disappearing. Carefully flip the fish again to caramelize the other side and then turn off the heat
  11. Garnish the fish with the remaining the green onion.
    Red Braised Fish {Quick Delicious Huai Yang Style}
  12. All done, serve with freshly steamed rice plus a blanched green leafy vegetable to complete the meal.

Notes

  • Wild caught whole fish that has a tender, flaky and yummy white meat is excellent choices for making tasty red braised fish. Ideally they should weigh between 0.5 lb and 1 lb. For instance, perch, butterfish, crucian are all great.
  • Fish illustrated in this recipe is Canadian wild caught white perch.
  • If you are in a time crunch, you can skip coating the fish with arrowroot flour.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 752Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 283mgSodium: 1564mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 115g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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