So, Quick Braised Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce. I've never cooked a whole fish before, and Tuesday night at 7 didn't seem like a good time to start practicing my fish cleaning skills.
Luckily our man Bittman provides a super quick variation with filets instead of whole fish. The whole thing is very easy, but I bet it would be a lot more full flavored with a whole fish. Basically you lightly batter and fry the fish in neutral oil just to brown it. Then you remove it from the pan, add some onions, garlic, Ginger and scallions. You let those all cook until the onions are pretty soft, then add some chopped onions (I used canned, which worked nicely) and fermented black beans that have been soaking in rice wine or dry sherry. Cook that all together a while and then return the fish to the pan to finish cooking for another five minutes or so.
Served it with plain rice and some salad. It's not the dark, gummy black bean sauce you're probably thinking of from chinese restaurants. This is something a little lighter, with a good amount of veggies. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the batter on the fish, which after being braised turned into something almost like a paste--maybe I didn't fry it at high enough heat, I don't know, but I think the next time I'd skip the batter altogether and see how that works out.
Also, I now have a huge package of fermented black beans. Anyone have any suggestions on how to use them?