Recipe: Salt and Pepper Fish

Who doesn’t love ‘salt and pepper’ anything. You can toss squid, fish or vegetables in this lip tingling mix of Sichuan pepper and salt with equally delicious results.

This starter takes a minimal amount of effort but delivers maximum satisfaction and is a dinner party show stopping starter.

(serves 4)


For the fish:
250g skinless white firm fish fillet, such as Basa or Cod
2 Tsp shaosing rice wine
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp cornflour
1/2 Tsp groundnut oil
pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Good pinch of Red chilli and spring onion cut into fine slithers

Salt and pepper mix:
3 Tsp flaky sea salt
1 Tsp sichuan peppercorns

Ginger dipping sauce:
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tsp finely chopped ginger
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Chilli vinegar dipping sauce:
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tsp caster sugar
1 Birds eye chilli thinly sliced


To make the dipping sauces, mix the ingredients together and set aside in dipping dishes until serving. Place the chilli and spring onions into a bowl and immerse with cold water until needed.

To make the salt and pepper seasoning, place the salt in a spice grinder and the sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan. Gently heat the pan and toast the sichuan for 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant. Add the sichuan pepper to the salt and grind to a fine grain. Set aside (note  if you don’t have a spice grinder you can use a pestle and mortar)  

Cut the fish into pieces around 3cm x 3cm each. Season lightly with a pinch of salt, add the rice wine and mix well. Add the egg, cornflour and groundnut oil and mix lightly being careful not to break the fish. Ensure each piece is coated with the marinade.

When ready to serve, heat a wok of vegetable oil to 180 degrees c (if you don’t have a thermometer drop a crumb of bread in the oil and if it sizzles and goes brown in 30 seconds then the oil is ready). Fry the fish in batches for 4-5 minutes each until lightly golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and fry the next batch.

Once the fish is cooked, toss it in the salt and pepper mix. Drain the chilli and spring onion slithers and press between kitchen paper to dry them off. Serve a few pieces of fish per person and top with the chilli and spring onion, serve with dipping sauces in the middle of the table.

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