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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Steamed Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce

Something magical happened today...
Something I had been longing for, dreaming of, romanticizing, tasting, feeling was able to materialize today.  All the past month's withholding was released upon arriving in my Asian Wonderland.  I felt a rush of oxytocin and serotonin and was able to let myself go, if only for a few seconds.
I was able to walk freely through the aisles, inspecting each item, feeling a close tenderness enveloping my aura and leading me to the treasure I had been seeking.
Dou chi is Chinese for fermented black soy beans.  Sometimes they are called salted beans.  Here I finally found them, in the spice aisle (where I wasn't looking) in their vacuum sealed bag.  I would finally be able to make Sichuan style steamed fish starring the 2 little fellows:
Doubanjiang (right) and Dou chi (left).
Serves 2
2 small hakes (whatever white fish you desire) gutted and scaled
1 tbsp Doubanjiang
1 1/2 tsp Dou chi (fermented black beans) chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, sliced
1 handful chopped scallions
1 Tbsp cooking wine (I used mirin)
1.  In a small bowl, mix together the doubanjiang, chopped dou chi, garlic, ginger, wine, and half the scallions.
2.  Score the fish on each side, then stuff the mixture inside the fish and rub it well all over the outside and into the crevices.  Let marinate this way for about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile you can prepare the sides if needed.
3.  In a bamboo steamer, lay some cabbage leaves or banana leaves or parchment paper at the bottom, then lay the marinated fish inside and cover.  Place about an inch of water in a large enough pan and bring to a boil.
4.  Put the bamboo steamer in the pan with the boiling water and cook on high for 7-8 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes before uncovering.
5.  Serve with rice and a salad or whatever you so desire for the fish is so good and spicy and pleasantly umami that it doesn't matter what you serve it with, just sprinkle the rest of the scallions over it on the plate.

Pungent is an appropriate word to describe that dou chi.  It's a salty fermenty pungent flavor that marries perfectly with the fish.  Do not use too much or it might overpower you.. and if you're lucky you may have the same reaction I did..
a feeling so incredible it almost seems illegal..
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