Grilled Fish Hot Pot (四川麻辣烤鱼)

Today we are making Wan Zhou Kao Yu (万州烤鱼). Wan Zhou is a district in Chongqing, Sichuan province, where this dish is originally from. Kao Yu means grilled fish. The district is recognized as this dish gets more and more popular all over China. The first time I had it, I was in college. My roommate was describing the dish while dragging me to the mall: “You’ve got to try this unique grilled fish. They put it in the hot pot. It is so delicious!” And I was like, “What? How does grilled fish and hot pot sound good together? You would never think about these two things being put together.” As it turns out, I have loved it since then, and here is the recipe. I am excited to share it with you.

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Grilled Fish Hot Pot Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb of fish
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and diced
  • 1 inch of ginger crushed and diced
  • 4-5 scallion (use the green part to marinade the fish use the white part for stir-frying
  • 2-3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
  • 2-3 tbsp of chili oil to brush the fish can also use olive oil
  • 1 cup of dried red chilies
  • 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 4-5 pieces of green chilies
  • 1-2 inch of ginger sliced
  • 15 cloves of garlic whole
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 6 ounces of bean sprout
  • 12 ounces of lotus root
  • 12 ounces of stem lettuce
  • 10 ounces of Chinese celery
  • 6 ounces of Tofu sheets
  • 4-5 cups of water or stock
  • 2/3 cups of hot pot flavor base
  • 2 tbsp of oil for stir-frying
  • 1.5 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar

Instructions

  • I am using yellowtail snapper today. You can use another type of fish as long as it is white and lean. This dish is a combination of BBQ and hot pot. Hot pot soup base is oily already, so an oil-rich type of fish will not do well in this recipe.
  • Marinate the fish with some crushed green part of the scallions, minced ginger, diced garlic, 1 tsp of salt, and 2-3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine for 15 minutes.
  • Cut open some red dried chilies to remove the seeds. Soak the chilies and 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns in water for 15 minutes.
  • Roughly dice 4-5 fresh green chilies and some white part of the scallion. Thinly slice 1-2 inches of ginger and peel 15 cloves of garlic.
  • Cut 1 medium-size red onion into chunks. Place it in a heatproof tray (I am using a ceramic baking pan) along with some bean sprouts. These 2 ingredients are like the bed. All the other things are going to go on top of it.
  • Peel the lotus root and slice it into 1/4 of an inch thick pieces. Soak the lotus root in water so they don’t oxidize and turn to a brown color.
  • Peel the celtuce and slice it into 1/4 of an inch thick pieces.
  • Discard the root and the leafy part of the Chinese celery. Cut the stalk into 1.5 inches long.
  • Roll up the tofu sheets and slice into 1/3 of an inch thick strips.
  • Preheat the oven to 500F. If your oven can not go to 500 F, then 400 or 450 will do just fine.
  • Use paper towels to remove all the aromatics from the fish.
  • Flip the fish onto a baking rack and apply a layer of chili oil or olive oil on the surface. This helps to char the fish nicely and prevent it from sticking to the baking ware.
  • Bake the fish at 500F for 10 minutes.
  • 10 minutes later, take the fish out. Brush the second layer of chili oil or olive oil onto the fish.
  • Turn the oven heat down to 400 F. Bake it for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.
  • While waiting, we will start cooking in the wok. Add 2 tbsp of oil. toss in the soaked but well-drained red dried chilies and the Sichuan peppercorns. Stir these two ingredients on low for a couple of minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated, then, add in the diced green chilies, the white part of scallions, garlic cloves, and ginger slices. Keep stirring until fragrant. Add in the hot pot soup base. I used about 2/3 cups, but you can use less or more depending on your taste. Give it a quick stir and pour in 4-5 cups of water (or stock is even better if you have it).
  • Bring this to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Season it with salt by taste. I used 1.5 tbsp here.vIt should taste a lot saltier because we got lots of vegetables and tofu sheets that we will add later. I also used 2 tsp of sugar. This recipe is spicy and flavorful. A little bit of sugar is good to balance the taste. Once the flavor is good, get a big spoon, take out some chilies, garlic... Reserve it on the side. We will use it as a garnish.
  • Then, add the lotus root, stem lettuce, Chinese celery, and tofu sheet into the wok. The temperature will drop a lot, so wait for it to come back to a boil, then pour everything into the rectangle baking pan.
  • By now, the fish should be ready. Take it out of the oven. Carefully place the fish in the baking pan, then garnish it with the reserved ingredients, and you are done.
  • This dish is supposed to be served with a portable stove on the table, which is perfect for now since the weather is getting a little cold. If you don’t have a portable stove, that is ok; you can continue to heat everything on your regular stove without the lid for 5 minutes until the fish is infused with the spicy and numbing hot pot soup. Then, you can take it out of the kitchen and serve it on the table.

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