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Sweet and Sour Fish {Simplified Huai Yang Style}

by Shirley
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Sweet and Sour Fish {Simplified Huai Yang Style}

Sweet and Sour Fish Huai Yang simplified style Tang Cu Yu {糖醋鱼} features whole fish braised in soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar and sugar. Green onions, ginger, freshly ground black pepper or white pepper are only there to enhance and elevate the natural deliciousness.

This straightforward braising method cooks fish in less than 15 minutes. Amazingly tasty, and so quick and easy to make.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}
Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}

What is Huai Yang Cuisine?

Huai Yang Cuisine {淮阳菜} is native to China’s Yangtze River Delta, a place I proudly call my hometown. It is one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisines.

By the way, the Four Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisines are Shandong or short for Lu {鲁}, Sichuan or Chuan {川}, Cantonese or Yue {粤} and Huai Yang or Su {苏}. Over the course of China’s long history, these four areas each formed their distinguished cooking styles based on their unique history, culture, local climates, as well as the native available ingredients.

Huai Yang Cuisine Classic Dishes Collection 1
Huai Yang Cuisine Classic Dishes Part 1

Yangtze River Delta area has been enjoying mild weather, bountiful resources since ancient time. Well known for its natural deliciousness, Huai Yang Cooking Style aims to bring out the food itself’s inherent yumminess. The condiments are only there to complement but not to overshadow.

Huai Yang Style Food typically uses very little salt, oil, and avoids any over-powering condiments, such as hot peppers. Therefore, it is suitable for all ages, including young children.

Huai Yang Classic Dishes Collection 2
Huai Yang Classic Dishes Part 2

What is typical Huai Yang Cuisine food look like?

Pork, duck, fish, and rice are among the popular ingredients going into Huai Yang style food.

Pork featured classic dishes include Lion’s Head Soup, Red Braised Lion’s Head, Sweet and Sour Ribs, Steamed Pork Patty, Red Braised Pork Chops, etc.

For duck, Nanjing salted duck and Red Braised Duck are among the popular ones.

Fish featured classic dishes include Sweet and Sour Yellow Croaker, Red Braised Fish, Pan Fried Crucian, etc.

Rice featured traditional dishes include Stir Fried Rice Cake with Pork Slices and Napa Cabbage, Brown Sugar Rice Cake, Pork Sweet Rice Flour Dumplings, Red Bean Rice Flour Dumplings, and Red Bean with Mini Sweet Rice Flour Balls {Xiao Yuan Zi}, Qing Tuan {Green Sweet Rice Flour Red Bean Dumplings}.

Other well-liked dishes include Huai Yang Style Wonton Soup, Shanghai Soup Dumplings {Xiao Long Bao}, Sheng Jian Mantou {Pan Fried Pork Buns}, Yang Chun Noodle Soup.

Zhenjiang vinegar is the ancient delicious vinegar behind iconic Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour flavor

Zhenjiang vinegar is an ancient black rice vinegar native to Zhenjiang city of Jiangsu Province in the Yangtze River Delta. Satisfyingly delicious, Zhenjiang vinegar has been one of the cornerstone condiments of Huai Yang style cooking, particularly the Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour flavor and taste.

Huai Yang Cuisine Sweet and Sour style features black sauce containing naturally aged soy sauce, light soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar and sugar. Sweet and Sour Ribs are another iconic Huai Yang style dish, especially popular in Shanghai area.

What types of fish are suitable for Sweet and Sour Huai Yang style?

First, you can use either freshwater or saltwater fish. Yellow Croaker is the most popular fish choice, which is a saltwater fish. Butterfish is the other most suitable saltwater fish. Perch and crucian are among the most suitable freshwater fish.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style} Ingredients
Ingredients

A suitable whole fish for Huai Yang Sweet and Sour style typically weighs between 0.5 lb to around 1 lb that has a tender, flaky, yummy white meat.

I am cooking Canadian wild caught white perch today. 4 of them weigh about 3.4 lbs after cleaning and descaling.

How to make a tasty, healthy, Sweet and Sour fish in less than 15 minutes?

See the Recipe for a detailed step-by-step tutorial. Here are key tips and tricks.

The first is to coat whole fish with arrowroot flour prior to cooking

Clean and rinse the fish well. Pat dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle the fish with a pinch of salt evenly. After that coat the fish, both sides, with a thin layer of arrowroot flour. Gently pat to rub into fish.

Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking
Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking

The Second is to sear the fish on both sides before braising

Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style
Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style

Turn the heat to medium, heat a hard anodized fry-pan for 1 minute, and then add oil, green onions and ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds or till fragrant and then lay fish flat flat onto the pan one by one. Cook for 2 minutes. Following that, flip the fish and cook the other side for another 2 minutes.

Traditional vs. Simplified Huai Yang Style Sweet and Sour Fish

Sweet and Sour Yellow Croaker is a very traditional well-liked Huai Yang style dish. The traditional cooking method usually pan fry to cook the fish using simmering heat first and then pour the heated sauce over. This method usually takes about 30 minutes, instead of 15 minutes using braising method.

For the traditional method, we also do extra prep work on fish. For instance, we usually stuff fish rib cage with thinly sliced ginger and green onions.

In summary, traditional method Huai Yang style requires more prep work, takes longer to cook, and the fish meat has more satisfying firm bite flaky texture. The simplified method doesn’t require lots of preparation and cooks the fish in under 15 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Fish {Braised Easy Huai Yang Style}

Sweet and Sour Fish {Huai Yang Simplified Style} Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Sweet and Sour Fish Huai Yang simplified style Tang Cu Yu {糖醋鱼} features whole fish braised in soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar and sugar. Green onions, ginger, freshly ground black pepper and white pepper are there to enhance and elevate the natural deliciousness. This straightforward braising method cooks fish in less than 15 minutes. Amazingly tasty, and so quick and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. whole fish, fully cleaned and descaled
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about 12 grams, thinly julienne sliced
  • 2 stems of tender cilantro, for garnishing, chopped

For Braising Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. sake
  • 1/4 cup Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar, turbinado sugar or organic cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp. naturally aged soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup water, for braising

Instructions

  1. Gather all ingredients. Add everything under the "For Braising Sauce" into a small bowl, whisk to mix.
    Sweet and Sour Fish {Shanghai Style} Ingredients
  2. Wash and rinse the fish inside out. Remove any additional undesirable stuff from the rib cage if needed. Pat dry fish with a paper towel.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour evenly over fish, both sides, gently pat.
    Coat whole fish with arrowroot flour before cooking
  4. Turn the heat to medium, heat a hard-anodized fry pan for 1 minute and then add oil, green onions and ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds or till fragrant.
  5. Lay fish flat onto the pan, one by one, cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish and cook for another 2 minutes.
    Sear the whole fish for braising sweet and sour fish Huai Yang Style
  6. Pour braising sauce into the pan in a circular motion. Use a mini spatula to scrape sauce bowl if needed. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
    Braising Sweet and Sour Fish Huai Yang Simplified Style
  7. Flip the fish and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, flip the fish for it to soak up the braising juice.
  9. All done! Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy a super delicious fish.
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Notes

  • Fish that has a white flaky meat is suitable for sweet and sour fish, such as perch, porgy, belt fish, butterfish, yellow tail, yellow croaker, etc.
  • Arrowroot flour is my go-to gluten-free wholesome starch choice. You may use starch of your choice.
  • Naturally aged soy sauce, or Jiang You in Chinese is the traditional soy sauce used since ancient time. Dark vs. Light soy sauce are modern time Cantonese invention. You can generally use dark soy sauce to substitute naturally aged soy sauce.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 504Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 1263mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 64g

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

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