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The Hirshon Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish in Squirrel Shape – 松鼠桂鱼


  • 1 fish (carp, yellow croaker or Mandarin fish, around 1 kg) 鲤鱼 lǐ yú / 黄花鱼 huánghuā yú / 桂鱼 guì yú
  • 1 quarter of onion 洋葱 yángcōng
  • 50g bamboo shoot (diced in cubes) 竹笋 zhúsǔn
  • 50g carrots (diced in cubes) 胡萝卜 húluóbo
  • 50g sweet corn kernels 甜玉米 tián yùmǐ
  • 50g peas 豌豆 wāndòu
  • 50g pine nuts kernels 松籽仁 sōngzǐrén
  • 2 tablespoons cooking wine 料酒 liàojiǔ
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger 姜 jiāng
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste 西红柿酱 xīhóngshìjiàng
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce with garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 糖 táng
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar 白醋 báicù
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 生抽 shēngchōu
  • 8 tablespoon water 水 Shuǐ
  • 1 teaspoon salt 盐 yán
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 黑胡椒粉 hēihújiāofěn
  • 2 chopped heads of dried Chinese tree fungi (soaked and properly cleaned)
  • 4 thinly-shredded bamboo shoots
  • 2 tablespoons of thinly shredded fresh ginger
  • 1 slivered sweet red pepper
  • ***
  • sesame oil 香油 xiāngyóu
  • 80g cornstarch (to dust the fish) 玉米粉 yùmǐ fěn
  • Vegetable oil to fry the fish 植物油 zhíwùyóu
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, washed and trimmed, and sliced on the diagonal


  1. Remove the head of the fish and split the underside of its “chin” to flatten it. Set aside for later use. Your fishmonger can do this for you.
  2. Remove the spine by filleting the fish from head to tail, being careful not to cut the tail. Slide the knife lengthwise beneath the backbone to detach it from the flesh, and remove. The tail will stay attached with both sides of the fish’s body. Remove the glossy underside of the stomach, which is a bit bitter. Again, your fishmonger can do this.
  3. Score the flesh with your knife, cross-hatching the meat side without cutting through the skin. The meat should now be portioned into small square blocks. Season with one teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 2 tbsp. cooking wine.
  4. Pour the cornstarch onto a plate and dust the fish and head, removing any excess.
  5. Heat some oil in a pan or wok and fry the head until golden brown. Remove the head and dry it on kitchen paper.
  6. Now add the fish, holding it by the tail for the first few seconds to set the shape. Fry for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain it on kitchen paper. Place the fish and the head on a serving plate.
  7. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium wok. Add the tree fungi, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, and sweet red pepper. Quick fry over moderate heat for two minutes.
  8. Add the tomato paste to the wok and heat for a few seconds (this will remove the tinny flavor and a bit of the acidity). Add chili sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and water. Mix well and then add the vegetables and ginger. Stir again and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste.
  9. Dissolve 3 tsp of cornstarch into 6 tsp of cold water and mix this into the sauce to thicken. Turn down the heat, drizzle on some sesame oil and pour the sauce over the fried fish. Finish off the dish with some pine nuts, and it’s ready to serve!

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