Chefs' Recipes

Tony Tan’s Hunan steamed fish with salted chillies and fermented black beans

A multi-dimensional dish with briny, punchy and spicy flavours.
James Moffatt

“One of the best known dishes from Hunan province, I love it for its briny and punchy flavours,” says chef and cookbook author Tony Tan. “Made with salted or fermented chillies and fermented black soy beans – dou chi – it’s really quick and easy to cook.” Begin this recipe at least 2 weeks ahead to ferment the chillies.

Tan serves this dish with stir-fried Chinese cabbage, which he fries in vegetable oil with 3 halved dried chillies, 1 tsp each crushed Sichuan peppercorns and chilli oil, 125ml chicken stock, a dash of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt.


Salted chillies


1.To make salted chillies, wash and slice chillies. Pound chillies coarsely with salt in a mortar and pestle. Place chillies in a sterilised jar and stir in vinegar. Seal and leave to ferment at room temperature (2-3 weeks).
2.Combine soy, Shaoxing, ginger, sugar, vinegar and salted chillies in a small bowl. Place fish on a plate that will fit a bamboo steamer basket and spoon over chilli mixture and marinate (10 minutes).
3.To steam, top fish with black beans and half the spring onions. Place plate in steamer over a saucepan of boiling water. Cover and steam until fish is just cooked through (5-7 minutes).
4.Just before serving, place fish on a platter and scatter with remaining spring onions. Heat oil in a small saucepan until starting to smoke, taking care, pour over spring onion and serve.

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