West Lake Fish


1 two-pound sea or striped bas (or red snapper or other white fish)
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
5 slices ginger root (one-eighth-inch thick)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Chinkiang or cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 garlic clove (smashed with side of a cleaver)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch


1. Rinse the fish and pat it dry, then make three slashes crosswise near the center on both sides of the fish, deep enough to break the skin and maybe 2 to 3 mm into the flesh.
2. Bring water to the boil in a large steamer or roasting pan. Slide in the fish, add the sherry and three of the ginger slices. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat leaving the fish cook in the hot (not boiling) water for twenty minutes.
3. Chop the remaining ginger and put it in a garlic press and squeeze out the ginger juice reserving it; you should get about one-quarter teaspoon of juice.
4. Put the ginger juice in a small saucepan with the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and cornstarch and heat and stir continuously until it thickens. Then discard the garlic.
5. Carefully remove the fish. Use a large spatula and slide it on to a platter. Do not lift the fish. Slide it or it will fall or break apart.
6. Pour the sauce over it, and serve.