Boiled Fish-Sichuan–Shui Zhu Yu Recipe

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My always love: Sichuan boiled fish(Shui Zhu Yu recipe)! If you are familiar with Sichuan cuisine or Sichuan style dishes, I believe that most of you have heard about the boiled series of Sichuan cuisine or in Chinese, we call “水煮,shuizhu” series and for the literal translation water boiled or simply boiled.

There is lot of famous water boiled dishes in Sichuan cuisine including boiled fish (boiled fish slices); water boiled sliced pork, boiled beef. Most of the dishes use slices rather than wedges or cubes because in order to keep the meat as tender as possible, the cooking time should be limited to just several minutes

The soup base is really important for boiled fish and other water boiled dishes. And the essential ingredient for the soup base is Doubanjiang or broad bean paste and dou-chi. I strongly recommend using pixian doubanjiang which might be available in Asia stores or you can purchase from amazon: Sichuan / Pixian / Pi Xian Broad Bean Paste 16OZ (454g).Basically, broad bean paste is stir-fried with ginger, garlic and the white part of green onion, and then clean water is added. During the process, slow fire is used to simmer the taste of Doubanjiang out and make the soup base tasty.

For boiled fish, both grass carp and snakehead fish are excellent choice. I use sea bass this time and it taste great too. So you can choose whatever you like.And one of the important steps is to slice the fish meat. Fishes should be sliced into thin pieces in order to make the meat tender and fresher.
These famous boiled dishes are quite popular in Sichuan province but also across the whole China. So if you ever visit some Chinese restaurant, they might be providing this option. Try it at that time or just make it by yourself. I promise that you cannot imagine how simple it is.

Here are some basic steps about how to fillet the fish in order to get thin fish slices.

Cut lengthwise along one side of the fish parallel and then cut along the other side.
Get the bones out and cut into small sections
Pay the fish fillet on broad and cut the meat into thin slices

After slice the fish fillet, then marinade it with appreciate amount of salt, cornstarch and one egg white to flavor.

Generally, water boiled fish is matched with one of several types of vegetables or mushrooms in order to get a better balance and rich the finish dish. The most traditional one is bean sprout or mushroom. But the vegetables should be cooked in clean boiling water and lay in the bottom of the finial container.

Here is a video showing the whole process.

Boiled Fish-Sichuan

Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
25 mins
Total time
40 mins

Famous Sichuan Water Boiled Spicy Fish
Fish marinating
One fresh fish around 1000g to 15000g
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cooking wine
Other ingredients
5 garlic cloves
2 green onion (separate white and green part)
2cups of Shitake mushrooms (You can choose other vegetables you like for example cucumber or bean sprouts)
1 inch root ginger, peeled and sliced
3 star anise
1 large cassia bark, break into small sections
2 tsao-kuo (optional)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
10 dried chili red pepper
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon doubanjiang
2 teaspoons dou-chi
pinch of salt if needed
Water as needed
½ tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

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Cut the fish meat into thin slices and chop the bones into sections.
Put all the bone section and fish slices in large bowl; add cooking wine, cornstarch and salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside to marinade about 15~30 minutes.
Boil some water in wok and cook mushrooms or any other vegetables you like. Then lay the vegetables in the bottom of your final container (you can also use cabbage or other vegetable to replace)
Heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in wok, add star anise, cassia bark and taso ko to stir fry for around 2 minutes until you can smell the aroma.Discard the cassia bark.
Add garlic, ginger and white part of green onion to stir-fry around 1 minute, then add half of the Sichuan peppercorn and half of the dried chili peppers to stir-fry until smell the tastes.
Add doubanjiang and dou-chi to stir-fry for 1 minute until aroma.
Pour water (around 3 cups) to wok and slow the fire after the water becomes boiling to simmer for 15 minutes,and then add 2 teaspoons of salt.
Pick the bone sections out of the marinading bowl and cook them firstly for around 1 minute.And the thin slices in to cook until the slice becomes white.
Transfer all the content to the serving bowl. Garnish some chopped spring onion firstly and then sesame seeds.
Heat up around 2 teaspoons cooking oil in wok again and add the left Sichuan peppercorn and chili peppers.
Pour the hot oil with Sichuan peppercorn and chili peppers evenly on the surface of the serving bowl.
Garnish another layer of spring onions.
For those who love spicy very much, you can sprinkle some chili powder and Sichuan peppercorn powder on top before pouring the hot oil.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2