Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Fish Paste

This dish can often be found at Chinese restaurants on the dim sum cart: pieces of green pepper stuffed with a smooth but springy shrimp paste, and lathered in a black bean sauce. During my vacation in Hong Kong a few years ago, I came to love this dish, as my aunt would make this dish with fish paste rather than shrimp paste, and rather than in green peppers, stuffed them into mild chilli peppers that gave the dish a nice (but not too over-powering) kick.

What's so great about this dish is how easy it is to put together when you have some pre-made fish paste and black bean sauce on hand. Granted, if won't taste as delicious if you take the effort to make your own fish or shrimp paste (because everything tastes better when it's made from scratch!), it is a good substitution when you're in a pinch. Pre-made fish paste can be found in most Asian grocers, in the fridge aisle and probably hanging out with the various different kinds of fish balls, cuttlefish balls and beef balls.

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You can go the traditional root if you want and use green peppers, but I love using the colourful sweet bell peppers since the sweetness of the vegetable makes for a lovely contrast to the savouriness of the fish paste and sauce. Feel free to use whatever peppers that fit your fancy; you can ever use mild chilli peppers if you'd like. I used mini bell peppers, but if you are using the normal-sized ones, cut them into quarters and then each quarter in half again horizontally. This will give you a total of 8 little pepper "bowls" from each pepper to hold the fish paste.

Before you stuff the peppers, coat the inside of the peppers with some cornstarch, which will help the paste stick to the peppers. Heat a little oil over medium heat in a wok or a nonstick frying pan and pan-fry the stuffed peppers fish paste-side down first. Pan-fry until golden and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes; flip the peppers and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the peppers from the pan and set aside.

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Add about a tablespoon of oil into the still-hot pan and add 1 heaping tablespoon of black bean and garlic sauce. Sprinkle in 2 to 4 teaspoons sugar (adjust according to your own tastes), a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a splash of light soy sauce. Add in a tablespoon or two of water and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Put the peppers back into the pan, stir to coat the peppers in sauce, cover and allow the peppers to simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes in the sauce.

Super easy and super fast, this dish is delicious with steamed white rice and some Chinese vegetables on the side.


Kaela October 7, 2008 at 2:35 p.m.  

Kae here!

Those look good enough to eat! srsly, I want. It looks like you've been super busy lately with the baking and cooking and whatnot :)

I wish I could say I've been as productive in my free time...

<3 miss you!

Kaela October 7, 2008 at 2:37 p.m.  

PS you're catering my wedding. You don't have a choice in the matter. But don't worry, you should still have a couple years to open your catering business before that happens :D you could easily win Andrew over with some deep fried tofu.

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