A local Yangshuo China specialty dish – beer fish. Easy to make yet bursting with flavors and textures. A must try mouthwatering recipe!
For my first cooking school of all time I chose Yangshuo Cooking School in Yanghsuo China, where D and I had been volunteering at an English school for a few days. As my first cooking school experience and my first opportunity in over a month to prepare my own meal I was both giddy and nervous. What if I couldn’t keep up? What if my food didn’t come out right? What if I couldn’t properly mimic all the techniques used? After all sure I love to cook and have a food blog but I have no formal culinary training and had never taken a single cooking class.
How would it go?
Without D to accompany me this was my first independent activity since we started traveling together in September. A whole 5 hours apart from D – how strange to think this would be the longest we had been apart in a month and a half.
And so into the unknown I went alone. I was greeted by Amy – our chef and instructor for the day (all the Chinese take on English friendly names by the way). Our little cooking group consisted of an older Norwegian couple, two older Dutch gentlemen, a younger Israeli couple, and two college students studying abroad in Hong Kong, one girl from Sweden and one from the US.
After a slightly traumatizing market tour (yes, I saw dead dogs and cats scalded, torched and dismembered) we were shuttled to the countryside cooking school.
On the menu were 5 Chinese dishes – the highlight of which was a local Yangshuo specialty – beer fish and my favorite dish of them all.
After a quick cooking demonstration by Amy we set off to work, chopping, dicing, and mincing. Working quickly we had all the raw ingredients prepared and were ready to start cooking.
With the fish caught locally in the Li River, the ingredients grown in nearby farms, and the beer from Guilin, the aromas of the fresh produce instantly filled the room. A generous amount of both ginger and garlic – I knew this beer fish dish would be a hit.
Carefully following Amy’s instructions, we worked quickly to get the fish cooked properly, making sure to add all the ingredients at the right time. Within minutes the dish was ready.
The smell of beer fish was incredible.
The tomato alone was almost overwhelming in how strong and delicious it smelled. It looked almost too good to eat. Impatiently snapping a few quick photos, I took my first bite.
The fish was lightly crispy yet soft, the tomatoes lightly cooked yet still juicy and with the ginger still crunchy. The blend of flavors and textures was magnificent. I was incredibly pleased both with myself and the finished dish.
Best of all, the ingredients and preparation are simple enough that this beer fish recipe can easily be prepared back home in the US!
How to make Beer Fish:
The most important step in this recipe is to heat the wok until smoking and only then turn down the heat and add the oil. In the cooking class we learned that this is the way the Chinese always cook and the wok is a staple in every kitchen.
Add the fish, skin side down, turning the heat up to medium high once the fish has been added. A sprinkle of salt is added to the fish.
Allow the fish to cook untouched until browned about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic to the wok and flip the fish over.
Without breaking up the fish into smaller pieces add peppers and tomatoes to the wok.
Cover and let cook for a few minutes, allowing the tomatoes to break down and release their juices.
Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and beer and cover to let cook until the fish is cooked through, a few more minutes.
Serve the fish garnished with greens with a side of steamed rice.
Why this beer fish is the best:
- ready in 25 minutes with only 10 minutes of prep
- bold aromatic flavors
- easily accessible ingredients
- easy recipe that will impress
- crispy soft fish paired with juicy tomatoes, crunchy ginger and fragrant sauce
- In Chinese style cooking the wok always need to be heated over high heat until smoking, then reduce the heat to low and add the oil. Hot wok, cold oil.
- This recipe will work with any firm white fish – cod, mahi mahi, etc
- This recipe will work well with chicken too, adjusting for the longer cooking time.
- Ideal to use a wok in this recipe and in all Chinese recipes, as that is the main cooking vessel.
Is this recipe low carb or Paleo?
- Yes this recipe is low carb. Serve over cauliflower rice instead of regular rice to keep it low carb.
- Unfortunately this recipe will be tricky to make paleo since the key sauce ingredients, beer, soy sauce and oyster sauce are not paleo.
Stay tuned for more recipes from the Yangshuo cooking school as well as other cooking school throughout China and beyond!
Recipe Adapted from Yangshuo Cooking School
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 100 grams white fish firm fish with skin on
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 inch piece of ginger cut into matchsticks
- 1 small tomato cut into 8 sections cut in half, then each half in half and each quarter in half
- 1/2 green pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 red pepper thinly sliced
- 1-2 green onions cut into 1 inch long sections
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce use tamari for gluten free
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 4 ounces light beer
Heat wok over high heat until smoking. Reduce heat to low and add oil.
Add fish skin side down and increase heat to medium-high. Add salt on top of fish,
Cook until skin side is browned and crispy. Add garlic and ginger and flip fish over. Use the lid as a cover to prevent oil from splattering.
Add peppers and tomatoes and lightly mix, without breaking up the fish into smaller pieces. Cover and let cook for a couple minutes.
Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and beer. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
Sprinkle with green onions and serve.