Starting with the fish, it calls for "600g fish (carp of any kind of fresh water fish)[sic]". This is problematic around here since the only whole fish I can find are ocean fish. I opted for a striped bass (locally known as rockfish) since they spend some of their time in fresh water.
|Striped bass is striped|
|I guess it is brown...|
In making the sauce, everything was straightforward, except for the part where it calls to add 3 tablespoons of lotus root starch or cornstarch. I was using cornstarch, and everyone knows you can't just add the starch directly, you just end up with lumpy balls. But since other recipes in the book do explicitly call for make a slurry or paste first, I thought maybe Pei Mei knew what she was talking about. I added the cornstarch and then I strained out out lumps and tried again with a slurry.
The final dish came out like this:
Final notes: The Chinese version has some comments that don't make it into the English:
- It calls for dark soy sauce not regular. Found this out too late.
- It urges the use of live fish that you kill yourself.
- It notes that you can use caramel (we think) instead of soy sauce. Intriguing.
The process is just to stir fry the cabbage, add salt and sugar, make a sauce with chicken stock, cornstarch and cream. Sprinkle with chopped ham.