Sweet and smoky red-cooked fish

Hong sao yu, the name of Ching-He Huangs dish in Mandarin, describes the deep brown-red colour given by soy, sugar and spices
By Ching-He Huang
Sweet and smoky red-cooked fish
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the fish

  • 350 g cod fillets, skin on
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine, or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp potato flour, or cornflour
  • sea salt

For the sauce

  • 200 ml water
  • 2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chinese black vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 splash shaoxing rice wine, optional

For the ginger broccoli

  • 1 heads broccoli
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2 slices ginger, or to taste
  • boiled or steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

You can use any white chunky fish for this recipe, or replace the fish with chicken or belly pork.


1. For the fish: rinse the fish under cold running water, pat dry with kitchen paper and cut into 5cm chunks. Put in a bowl with the shaoxing wine (or sherry) and leave to marinate for a few minutes. Pat dry again.

2. Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. When the oil starts to smoke, dip the fish slices in the potato flour (or cornflour) to coat and lay them in the wok skin-side down. Fry over a medium heat until crisp the flesh should turn opaque and flake when poked with a knife. Leave the fish in the wok and turn the heat down to very low.

3. For the sauce: heat another small wok or saucepan over a medium heat, add all the sauce ingredients and boil until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half. Pour the sauce through a metal sieve over the fish, retaining the sieved spices.

4. Turn the heat under the fish up to medium and cook until the sauce bubbles, spooning the sauce over the fish all the time to ensure it is well coated. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil for the broccoli.

5. For the ginger broccoli: blanch the broccoli in the boiling salted water for 1 minute, drain well and set aside.

6. Heat the oil in a wok, add the ginger and leave for about a minute to flavour the oil. Add the blanched broccoli and stir-fry until warmed through and coated in gingery oil.

7. To serve, divide the cod and sauce among two bowls, sprinkle the reserved spices over the top and serve with jasmine rice and the broccoli.

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