Grouper is one of the most desirable fish on account of its rich flavor and meaty texture. Traditionally, braised fish is cooked whole, head and all, and only the most inedible fins are removed. Some restaurant chefs deep-fry the fish before braising it as it looks more impressive and, when cooked, stays in shape better.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 1 grouper, about 450 g/1 lb
- Oil for deep-frying (optional)
- 30 ml/2 tablespoons chopped scallions (spring onions)
- Fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs, to garnish
For the sauce:
- 30 ml/2 tablespoons black bean sauce
- 15 ml/1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 10 ml/2 teaspoons garlic puree
- 10 g/2 teaspoons ginger puree
- 5 ml/1 teaspoon sugar
- 2.5 ml/½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 30 ml/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 60 ml/4 tablespoons Chinese wine
- 15 ml/1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour), to thicken (optional)
Gut and clean the fish but leave the head on. Trim off the fins with scissors and cut off half the tail if it protrudes too much from the pan you are going to cook it in.
Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a wok or large pan and fry the grouper until golden brown if you wish.
Blend all the sauce ingredients with 40 ml/14 fl oz water and mix well. Bring to the boil in a wok or deep pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the whole fish and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Spoon the sauce over the fish from time to time as it cooks, but do not run the fish over as it might break.
Serve the fish hot, garnished with fresh cilantro. If you wish to thicken the sauce a little, mix 15 ml/1 tablespoon cornstarch with a little water and stir it into the sauce for the last 2 minutes of cooking.