West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy recipe

Perhaps the most famous fish dish of Hangzhou cuisine is West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy (Chinese Name: 西湖醋鱼 (xī hú cù yú)). This dish was named after the most beautiful and famous lake in China, West Lake (西湖). But what makes this dish famous is not just because of its name.

Before  cooked, a fresh alive grass carp is firstly kept hungry in clear water for one to two days to rinse well and get rid of the smell of mud, and then it is cut in half from head to tail but not separated, delicately poached and then served eyes-up and topped with a sharp sweet and sour, vinegar-based sauce. This dish integrates delicious tastes, with tender fish meat like crabmeat.This simple cooking method pretty much shows the essence of Zhe Jiang cuisine – maintaining the freshness as much as possible.

West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy

History of West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy recipe

the lake, the canals and the nearby ocean guarantee fish, shrimp and other seafood as staples in the cuisine.This dish origin can be traced back to Song Dynasty. it is said that it is originated from Song’s younger brother and wife.

Song and his younger brother are both pretty knowledgeable, they lives a secluded life peacefully. However, one day the villain Zhao met Song’s wife and was attracted by her beauty. He killed Song by intrigues when he knew that the beauty was Song’s wife. Song’s wife and his younger brother were very indignant and they accused Zhao for commit crimes. But the local authorities were on the side of the villain, they were failed and swept out of the government. After getting home, Song’s wife asked the younger brother to escape from Hangzhou in case of reprisals. Before Song’s brother gone, his sister in law made him a dish that is made of fish with sugar and vinegar. Song’s brother was surprised and asked why the fish was cooked so weird. His sister in law said: you will taste sweet and sour in this dish, I want you to remember how your brother died and remember to pay the revenge years later. The younger brother was deeply moved and he left home with his sister in law’s request.

Several years later, Song’s younger brother became an authority and put the villain to law. However, his sister in law was hidden and he can’t find her. One day, the younger brother attended a banquet and he ate a dish that has the same taste as the one his sister in law has made. He asked the host and found that it was his sister in law who had been a maid to escape from reprisal.

The story ended with the perfect,this ” West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy “   recipe also  spread widely with this story .

Ingredients of West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy:

Live grass carp 1 (about 700 grams weighing), Shaoxing rice wine 25 grams, 1.5 grams of ginger, soy sauce 75 grams, 60 grams of sugar, vinegar 50 grams, wet starch 50 grams, a little sesame oil.

Steps to cook West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy:

1. First put  the live grass carp into a large basin filled with clear water,keep it  hungry for one to two days to rinse well and get rid of the smell of mud.

2. Let the fish back  outwards, cutting from the tail and along the backbone to the submandibular, splitting the head, chopping off fish teeth.

3. Add 1,000 grams of water in the pot, stir to boil, and then spread out the fish,  back down, put into pot to boil again, then turn to simmer for another 3 minutes till fish paddle fins erecting and eyes sticking out. then, take out the fish with a colander, drain soup, put into a bowl with skin side up and being flat.

4. Marinade:Heat up the pot with the original fish soup 250 grams, Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, to boil. Add vinegar, starch and sesame oil to the  marinade. poured the  marinade over the fish’s body.serve.

Tips to cook West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy :

1. It is better to cook this dish with live grass carp.

2. The marinade for fish must be thick but not much.

3. Fish cannot be in boiled in water for long time,to make  the fish keep as a whole and not broken, also make the meat to be tender but not rotten.

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