Braised Fish with Lao Gan Ma Sauce is a delicious savory main dish served with steamed rice for dinner. The fish is coated with a rich and flavorful sauce made with Lao Gan Ma sauce and aromatics.
Lao Gan Ma is a brand of Chinese chili sauces. You can easily spot Lao Gan Ma products at any Asian grocery stores in the US. or on Amazon. This braised fish dish is one of our favorite ways to use this sauce.
To make this braised fish with Lao Gan Ma sauce recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
Fish: I like to use whole fish (medium size, about 1 lb/450g). Here I use a white pomfret, a fish with soft and buttery flesh. Generally, you can use any variety of fish with white and silky flesh. I recommend scoring the thickest part of the fish to let the flavors penetrate easily. If you cannot find whole fish, fish fillets will also work.
Lao Gan Ma sauce: among the different flavors available, I prefer Lao Gan Ma chili oil with black beans. It’s not so spicy, and the fermented black beans add more umami flavors to the sauce.
Other ingredients: include plenty of aromatics (ginger, scallion and garlic), a bit of wine (Shaoxing wine or sake), and soy sauce. These ingredients help refine the flavors of the fish, removing any unpleasant fishy taste.
How to Braise Fish with Lao Gan Ma Sauce
This dish uses braising cooking method, but it’s actually quick to make. Since fish flesh is delicate, we don’t need a long braising time as with pork and beef.
If you have a wok, it’s perfect. I don’t have a wok large enough to fry a whole fish, and my stove is induction, so I use my shallow frying pan.
1️⃣ First, rub the fish with a bit of salt and wine, and let it rest for a few minutes. This step will help eliminate undesired fishy smells. Then pat dry and fry it in hot oil until both sides are golden.
2️⃣ Then proceed to make the sauce. We will sauté the aromatics until fragrant, and after that, add the Lao Gan Ma sauce and stir-fry until you can smell the fragrance. This step will liven up the jarred sauce, making it more aromatic. Now, pour in the stock or water.
3️⃣ Slide the fish into the pan and braise each side over low heat for 5-8 minutes covered, depending on its thickness and how much flavor you want it to soak up.
4️⃣ Transfer the fish to a serving dish, and the last step is to thicken the sauce with some cornstarch slurry. I also like to throw in chopped scallion and mild chili pepper (or red bell pepper) to add colors to the sauce. Finally, pour the sauce over the fish and serve.
It’s best to enjoy this Lao Gan Ma braised fish with steamed rice. Please find the list of ingredients and instructions in the recipe card below.
More Fish Recipes
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Braised Fish with Lao Gan Ma Sauce
For the Fish
- a 1 lb (450g) scaled, gutted and cleaned whole fish (or fish fillets)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sake
- 2 ginger slices
- cooking oil
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/4 cup diced onions
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced white part of scallions
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce or regular soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon of water, divided (or stock)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon diced mild chili pepper or red bell pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green part of scallions
- If using a whole fish, score the thickest part of the fish with a few diagonal lashes on both sides. Rub the fish (both the outside and inside) with the salt and wine. Place the ginger in its cavity. Set aside for several minutes while you prepare all other ingredients.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a wok or a shallow frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, pat the fish dry and add it to the pan. Increase the heat as needed and fry until both sides are golden, about 2 minutes each side depending on its thickness. There is no need to cook it all the way through. Transfer the fish to a plate and remove the frying oil from the pan.
- Add some oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and heat it over medium heat. Then add minced ginger and sauté for a minute until fragrant. Then add diced onions and continue to cook for about 45 seconds. Then add the white parts of scallions and minced garlic to the pan and cook briefly until fragrant.
- Add Lao Gan Ma sauce to the pan and continue to stir and cook until you can smell the fragrance, about a minute. Add both types of soy sauce, sugar and ½ cup (120ml) of water to the pan. Give everything a stir and let it come to a boil.
- Slide the fish into the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and braise each side over low heat for 5-8 minutes, depending on its thickness and how much flavor you want it to soak up.
- Carefully transfer the fish to a serving plate. Turn the heat to medium and taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed. If too much liquid has evaporated, you can also add a splash of water to the sauce. Stir the cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of water. Slowly add the cornstarch slurry while stirring to thicken the sauce to your liking.
- Throw in diced chili pepper and green parts of scallions. Stir the sauce one more time then turn off the heat. Pour it over the braised fish and serve right away.