Yunnan-style grilled sea bass with twice-cooked pork

Preparation time
over 2 hours

Cooking time
1 to 2 hours

Serves 4

Saturday Kitchen Chefs - Ching He Huang

By Ching-He Huang
From Saturday Kitchen


For the fungus pickle

  • 6 baby cucumbers, washed, sliced on the diagonal on one side (not all the way through), then the other to make a ‘slinky’
  • 40g/1½ oz dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1–inch piece fresh root ginger, grated
  • 2 red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped

For the fungus pickle dressing

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp roasted unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp crispy chilli oil

For the pork (hui guo rou)

  • 480g/1lb pork belly slices, skin on ideally
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp yellow bean sauce or brown miso paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic black bean sauce or crushed fermented black beans rinsed in water
  • 3 large spring onions or Chinese leeks, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • pinch caster sugar
  • 25ml/1fl oz orange gin

For the sea bass spice mix

  • 1 dried Sichuan chilli
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tbsp Yunnan peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tso sea salt

For the sea bass

  • 1 x 500g/1lb 2oz whole sea bass, cleaned, head on
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 25ml/1fl oz orange gin

For the salsa verde

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2–inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 small red chillies, finely sliced
  • 4 spring onions, topped, tailed and sliced to 1cm rings
  • 4 small handfuls Vietnamese mint, sliced
  • ½ bunch fresh coriander, stems and leaves sliced into 0.3cm pieces
  • 5–6 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 limes, juice only

To serve

  • plain rice
  • edible flowers
  • 8 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • banana leaves


  1. To make the fungus pickle. Toss the pickle ingredients together in a bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients in another bowl. Add the dressing to the pickle bowl, toss well, cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  2. To make the pork. Pour 1 litre/1¾ pint water into a large saucepan, add the pork and bring to the boil. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain and leave to cool. Place the pork belly in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.

  3. Once firm, slice into fine slices about ½cm/¼in thick. Heat a wok over a high heat, add the rapeseed oil, then the pork. As the pork starts to brown, add the Shaoxing rice wine and cook until the pork belly is slightly crisp. Add the chilli bean sauce, yellow bean sauce and black bean sauce, then stir-fry for 1 minute.

  4. Add the spring onions and stir for less than a minute. Flambe with the orange gin. Add both soy sauces and the sugar, then give everything a final toss. Set aside.

  5. To make the fish, combine all the spice mix ingredients plus 1 tsp salt in a pestle and mortar, then grind.

  6. Slice slits in the sea bass on both sides. Season the seabass inside with the Shaoxing rice wine, rubbing into the cavity. Season the sea bass with the spice mix on both sides, in the slits and inside the cavity.

  7. Place the fish on a medium-high hot grill. Grill for 4½ minutes on one side (it might take less or more time, depending on the size of the fish), then flip over when the fish is not sticking to the grill. Cook the other side for 4½ minutes. Place in a frying pan over a high heat and flambe with the orange gin.

  8. Meanwhile, combine all the salsa verde ingredients in a small bowl, then set aside.

  9. Mix the sweet chilli sauce and fish sauce together and divide between 4 pots.

  10. Place the fish on banana leaves and drizzle over the aromatic salsa verde. Serve immediately with the twice-cooked pork, plain rice and fungus pickle. Garnish with edible flowers and serve alongside the sauce

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