This is a tweak of an old recipe for fish slices in a tomato sauce – the original recipe tastes a bit like sweet and sour fish and involves ketchup. With summer tomatoes filling the market stands, though, I thought the recipe deserved an upgrade and an update! I dislike the tendency in Chinese recipes to shallow-fry fish before adding it to a sauce, so I prefer to gently simmer it in the sauce and thereby cut down on a large amount of fat.
The recipe calls for sole or flounder – the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recommends we try to find wild-caught Pacific versions of these fish. If you want to substitute tilapia, try to find US-farmed, not Asian-farmed for this variety. You can also substitute shrimp – wild-caught pink shrimp from Oregon is your best choice for sustainability.
- 12 oz sole, flounder, or tilapia fillets
- 1/3-1/2 lb tomatoes
- 1 T oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/4 c green peas, fresh or thawed frozen
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 T Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/4 c rice or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 c water or broth
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- chopped cilantro
- Gently rinse fish and pat dry, then cut along the midline lengthwise and into 1.5″ sections crosswise.
- Combine the marinade ingredients and mix gently with fish slices.
- If you prefer, you can peel the tomatoes by cutting an X in the non-stem end with a sharp knife, plunging into boiling water for approximately 15 seconds, then allowing them to cool before peeling. This step is optional, and I usually omit it.
- Cut the tomato in 1/2 crosswise, gently squeeze or scoop the seeds out with your fingers, then cut into 1/2″ dice.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers, then add the diced onion and peas, stirfrying for approximately 1 m.
- Give the sauce ingredients a stir, then pour into the wok and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1 m.
- Add the fish slices and tomatoes and turn gently until they are coated with sauce. Simmer just until the fish is cooked through – less than 5 m is usually plenty to cook the fish and cook out the starchy taste of the sauce.
- Adjust seasoning, garnish and serve.
- You can substitute shrimp for the fish – they should be peeled and deveined. If they are large, you can cut them in 1/2 lengthwise or into small sections crosswise.
- You can add 1 T dried wood ears (a type of fungus) to the onions and peas – the wood ears should be soaked for 10 m in hot water, rinsed well (they tend to be sandy), the tough parts removed, and the fungus cut into small pieces.