Spicy Fish Stew (Shui Zhu Yu) is authentically spicy and features Sichuan peppercorns; a formerly illegal in the United States spice that sometimes gets classified as a drug. If you’ve ever tasted this peppercorn you’ll immediately notice the feral perfume it imparts to the broth of this fish stew.
Sichuan peppercorns and doubanjiang (spicy broad bean paste) are available at markets with a good selection of Asian ingredients, or online through Amazon.com and other sites.
- 6 large dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 ½ pound fresh white fish fillets (such as red snapper)
- 2 tablespoon rice wine
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 star anise pods
- 5 clove garlic (peeled and smashed)
- 1 (2‑inch) knob fresh ginger (sliced)
- 2 scallions (white and green parts sliced separately)
- 2 teaspoon Sicuanese peppercorns
- 10 dried red chiles
- 2 tablespoon spicy broad bean paste (doubanjiang)
- 1 cup chopped Chinese celery (or regular celery)
- ½ napa cabbage (quartered lengthwise and then cut into 2‑inch pieces)
- steamed rice (for serving)
Place the mushrooms in a bowl, add warm water to cover, and let soak for about 30 minutes, until rehydrated.
Meanwhile, cut the fish fillets into thin slices. In a large bowl, combine the fish slices with the rice wine, cornstarch, and kosher salt. Set aside and let marinate at least 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the star anise, garlic, ginger, and scallion whites and stir-fry for another minute. Add the broad bean paste and continue to stir-fry for another minute.
Add the celery, napa cabbage, and drained shiitake mushrooms to the wok. Add 2 cups water, or enough to cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the fish fillets from their marinade and add them to the wok; cook until the fish is just opaque, about 2 minutes. Remove the wok from the heat and transfer the contents to a serving dish.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon peppercorns and 5 chiles, and stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant (the amount of spice can be adjusted to your liking).
Just before serving, pour the hot oil over the stew and garnish with the chopped scallion greens. Serve over hot rice.