This right here is a fish. This fish is adorned with everything chili. The reds and the greens are just variants of chili.
Before I begin this post, let me tell you exactly why there are so many chillies in, and on the fish. I live in the wonderful Hunan Province in China, where the food is soul witheringly hot. It’s so spicy that your intestines beg for mercy, your tongue commits hara kiri and your lips give up on you. It’s so maddenigly hot that the tears from your eyes are just the beginning. It’s the food that all Hunanese people take pride in and the unbelievable part is that it is absolutely addictive. Once you’ve eaten a tear inducing morsel, you wouldn’t stop. You would be in danger of being disoriented but you will keep shoveling it in your mouth. It’s a perfect blend of extreme spice, vinegar, salt and LOVE. Of course you’d hate your macho instincts next morning.. just saying…
This fish and a lot of other Hunanese speciality was prepared by my dear friend ‘Nana’ and her husband ‘Mr. Ye’ who always invite us (i.e le moi and the vegetarian husband) to treat us to some of the most extreme yet exciting and delicious food.
Cooked side up. All this was happening pretty fast though. The wok was being shaken, the fish being rotated, the sizzling and the smoke and the typically Chinese expertise in lifting the wok every some time from its extremely high flame.
Once the fish including the tail was entirely cooked, it was removed to a plate and into the remaining hot oil some water was added along with the dried red chillies, salt, some chicken stock granules and garlic
Mr. Ye added a big of glug of ‘baijiu’ which is a Chinese alcohol (it’s 51% alcohol), extremely strong and crazy. He told me Vodka would work just as well, and I believe a man who handles a wok on fire with such grace.
This recipe is really nothing defined, once can actually prepare according to your love for the spices. In case if you’re not into chillies then really this isn’t for you at all. However if you happen to love the hot stuff, by all means make it and you will not regret it.
whole fish of your choice. (cleaned and deboned mostly)
dried red chillies chopped coarsely 20-25 pieces
garlic crushed and sliced thin 8-10 cloves.
green chillies sliced thin 10-12 in nos.
Spring onions cut thinly 2-3 in nos.
oil at least 40 mls ( roughly 2.5 tablespoons)
salt to taste
water or chicken stock 100 mls
Chicken stock granules 15 gms (omit if using chicken stock)
vinegar 10 mls (2 teaspoons)
soy sauce 10 mls
baijiu or vodka 30 mls
Recipe: in a large wok enough to accommodate the fish, heat the oil on a high flame. The oil should start smoking, then add in your fish and cook both sides until almost done.
remove the fish on a plate and in the oil add the chillies followed by the water or chicken stock and let it heat. Add in the garlic, salt and chicken stock (if you are using water). Stir around and don’t let the heat drop, the wok should be fairly hot at all times. If the water evaporates add in more but keep enough to not let anything burn.
Put the fish you’d removed back into the wok, placing them atop the chillies and the thin coating of sauce.
Pour in the alcohol and let it bubble and catch fire.
Clamp on the lid for roughly 1 minute, throw the spring onion on top and serve hot and eat with rice.
Disclaimer: Prepare this fish at your own peril, for this is ferociously hot. Keep a very cold beer upon your person while feasting on the beast. A tub of ice cream is highly recommended post this debauchery.
– Also you can adapt this recipe to suit your spice needs, you can go for mellower chillies, reduce the quantities of chillies etc., but for the full on flavour and a kick to your senses prepare it just the way Mr. Ye did.