Roasted fish: Chinese herbal concoction

Roasted fish: Chinese herbal concoction

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

This dish comes from my revisiting of my childhood demons of the pungent and bitter Chinese herbal soups drunk to relieve symptoms of illness and build up the constitution. The combination of the sweetness and bitterness of various herbs creates a great foil for fish. All the ingredients are available from Chinese herbalists.

For the bak kut teh (chinese herbal Concoction)


Quantity Ingredient
5 pieces rhizoma ligustici
3 pieces rhizoma polygonati odorati
2 pieces radix angelica sinensis
4 pieces radix rehmannia gl utinosa
2 tablespoons hawthorn berries
5 dried red chinese dates
5 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
500g pork spare ribs
1 cassia stick
1/2 star anise
2 cloves
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 head garlic, peeled
4 red asian shallots, peeled
1 piece young ginger, peeled
cognac, to season
dark soy sauce, to season
light soy sauce, to season
sugar, to season
4 white fish fillets, with Skin on, about 90 g each
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
6 brussels sprouts, leaves separated out
6 chestnuts, shelled, lightly cooked in chicken stock until soft


  1. Make the bak kut teh:
  2. Soak the first 6 ingredients together in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Soak the shiitake in a separate bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Blanch the ribs in boiling salted water, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap the cassia, star anise, cloves and both peppercorns in a muslin bag. Put in a pot with the drained soaked herbs and mushrooms and the ribs. Add the garlic, shallots and ginger and 3.5 litres water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours to develop the herbal and pork flavours. Strain this into another pot, discarding the solids. Bring the broth to the boil and simmer until it becomes quite concentrated. Season to taste with cognac, dark and light soy sauce for colour and saltiness, and sugar if desired. Keep hot.
  3. Cook the fish:
  4. Do this as close to serving as possible with the aim of serving the fish directly from the oven. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Score the fish skin with a handful of slashes. Heat the oil over medium–low heat in a large skillet with an ovenproof handle. Fry the fish fillets, skin side down, for 4–5 minutes until the skin is crisp. Turn them over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes so that the fish will cook through but remain succulent.
  5. Assemble the dish:
  6. Lightly steam or fry the brussels sprouts leaves until they turn an even brighter green and are slightly softened. Break the chestnuts into slightly smaller pieces and scatter into bowls. Spoon over a little of the hot herbal concoction for the chestnuts to warm through. Add the brussels sprouts leaves and fish to the bowls and a generous amount of the herbal concoction to serve.
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