Shanghai Smoked Fish

Crusty on the outside, tender inside, and usually served during traditional Chinese festivals, this scrumptious Shanghai smoked fish is one of the most famous of Huaiyang cuisines.



Most of us have heard of the masterpiece, Dream of the Red Chamber, one of China’s four great classical novels. Yet, few may realize that the dishes described in the novel are Huaiyang cuisine, which originates from China’s Jiangsu province. This region was a transportation hub for the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, wealthy merchants converged in the region’s major cities. Hence, fine cuisines were created for these rich diners.

Huaiyang cuisine stresses knife skills, cooking time, degree of heat, and elegance in presentation. Foods have a mild, moderate sweet and salty taste. Served either hot or cold, this nourishing seafood dish warms the stomach, calms the liver, and dispels wind in the body. Different fish — grass carp, black carp, seer or mackerel — can be used to create this popular delicacy. 

Ingredients: (Two servings)

Approx. 3 cups (700g) sliced grass carp or black carp
2⅓ cups (550ml) water
3 scallions or spring onions finely sliced
6 star anise
2 tsp (10g) cinnamon
2 Tbsp (30g) cooking wine
4⅔ Tbsp (70g) soy sauce
⅔ cups (160g) sugar
⅔ tsp (3g) five-spice powder
2 tsp (10g) salt
4 Tbsp (60g) ginger finely sliced
3½ cups (900g) oil


1. Clean fish, wipe off excess water.
2. Place fish, sliced ginger and scallions with cooking wine in big bowl. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes to remove fishy smell.
3. To prepare the marinade, add cinnamon, five-spice powder, star anise, sugar, salt, and soy sauce to water in pot.
4. Boil on high heat, simmer on medium for 10 minutes, then keep warm on low heat.
5. Heat oil to 265°F (130°C); fry fish until light brown and remove.
6. Then heat oil to 356°F (180°C); fry fish again until golden brown.
7. Remove fish; place in marinade for 3 minutes.
8. Serve fish on plate garnished with chopped scallions.

Photography by Hsuyi Shih