Here is an inspiration for your next April Fool’s joke.
Go to your favorite local Sichuan restaurant with your non-spicy food eating friends. And order the “Water-boiled fish” or Shui Zhu Yu 水煮魚in Chinese and tell your friends that this is a light dish from “healthy diet” section.
Then, just sit back and watch their ridiculous reaction once they see the dish 🙂
OK, all kidding aside but if you are ever in the market for a mouth-burning and tongue-numbing authentic mala Sichuan dish, look no further than this “Water-boiled fish” or Fish Fillet in Spicy Chili Oil as I always prefer to call.
After all, this fish dish has all the classic Sichuan cuisine elements such as Ma (from the tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns) and (La from spicy chili pepper), aromatic spices, and chili oil.
Yes chili oil, and in this case lots of it, is a key ingredient that holds the rich and spicy flavor in this dish. So if you ever have to skip an ingredient please make sure this is NOT the ingredient you skip.
As for the fish, I like to use white fish such as cod which, when cooked correctly, should melt in your mouth with a minor explosion from all that ma la flavor (especially if you you accidentally bite into one of those tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns).
If you are intimidated by that thick layer of hot oil and piles of dried chili and peppercorns, you can easily adjust the recipe to suite your palate.
In fact, this recipe is meant to serves as an introduction to the famous “water-boil” dishes. You can substitute fish with any protein you prefer. The common proteins used are pork, beef, lamb, and tofu.
The spiciness level in this recipe is purposely tuned down to make the recipe more adaptable to everyone. If you are into spicy food or authentic Sichuan style, use more chili and peppercorn in the spicy broth and also double the ingredients for hot oil!
Bottom line, if you like other spicy dishes such as Sichuan hotpot, then you’ll absolutely love this dish. If you are the one who gets irrigated with the slightest trace of hot sauce, then you’ll want to skip this one.
Now without further ado, let me help you dissect this fiery Sichuan dish with step by step recipe instructions.
Yield: 2-3 servings