Cooking with Mom: Red Snapper Fish 紅燒紅鯛魚

Eating whole fish is the way to do it in the Chinese culture. People eat almost every part of the fish, including the eyes. My granduncle told me that the treasure of the fish was underneath the “cheeks”. He said the meat underneath was the most tender. It’s interesting that I’ve taken that to heart and every time we have whole fish, I search for and eat the meat under the cheek.

We got the fish from New City Supermarket in Kitchener.

How do you tell if a fish is fresh?

A friend told me:

  • Look at the gill, it should be red.
  • Look at the eyes, they should be clear and bright.
  • Look at the overall appearance of the fish, should look clean and should “shine”.
  • Of course, you could also smell it. Should not smell fishy…

The people working behind the counter will clean and, if you want, chop the fish for you.

This recipe was actually inspired by my friend MM.

1 whole red snapper fish, cleaned *I usually wash the fish prior to cooking
2 tbsp of flour
A dash of salt
1 tsp of ginger, minced
1 tsp of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of black vinegar (same as the the one I used in this recipe)
1/2 tsp of sugar
1/3 cup of water or broth
1 to 2 tbsp of sesame oil
A dash of rice wine
* These measurements are all approximate; the quantities also depend on your taste
* You can also add red chilli pepper to this for a little more spice


Cut three slits on each side of the fish. Rub with flour and salt.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry the fish for a couple of minutes on each side. Set the fish aside. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. This will allow the flavour of ginger and garlic to come out.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add the fish and cover. Let it cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is fully cooked (test it out with chopsticks).


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