I must confess I used to be afraid of making dishes involving seafood. Growing up I didn’t eat much seafood. Partially it was due to the physical geographical limitations of the place I grew up in. After all, Beijing is not a port city and back then, transportation was not as developed as these days. So I did not have access to an abundant or convenient seafood supply like many did in southern port cities in China. As a result, I didn’t appreciate or have the palate for seafood, let alone know how to cook it.
This, however, changed after I met my husband. My husband’s family is from Shanghai, a southern port city in China with plenty of seafood year-round. Even though he grew up in the US, seafood was a prominent part of his family’s dinner table. He introduced me to many different types of seafood and encouraged me to try making them at home.
After being together with my husband for over 10 years, I have become a seafood convert. I am also much more at ease with making seafood and am always on the look-out for new yummy seafood recipes. Seafood not only is full of the umami taste (鲜味) that so many people crave, but it’s packed with high quality proteins. On top of that, unlike meat or poultry, seafood in general takes very little time to cook as it’s best to preserve its fresh taste and delicate texture.
This recipe was given to me from a family friend/auntie. I made very slight adjustments. The ingredients are simple and widely available. It’s healthy, low carb, pescatarian friendly, and gluten free. Not to mention it is super flavorful. Tomato’s acidity works wonders with fish fillet and tofu. It is also quite versatile and can either be eaten as a soup or as a main dish.
Low Carb; Gluten Free; Pescatarian Friendly
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min
Servings: 4 people
- 2 fish fillets1
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine 2
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes
- ½ pound or 225 g medium-firm tofu3
- 1 inch or 2.5 cm long ginger
- 1 green onion
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 2 cups of chicken stock or water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves4
- Cut the fish fillet at an angle into thin slices and put the slices in a bowl. Add the ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper, and 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine to the bowl and mix well. Let it marinate for 30 minutes.
- While the fish fillet is being marinated, prepare the tomato by removing the tomatoes’ skin as follows.
- Boil a pot of water.
- Make a slit or cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute.
- Remove them from the boiling water after a minute and immediately put them under cold or icy water.
- Take them out after 1 minute and the skin should peel off easily.
- Cut the peeled tomatoes into small wedges.
- Slice the tofu into 1-inch by 2-inch (2.5 cm x 5 cm) pieces, about 0.5 inch or 125 cm thick, as depicted.
- Chop the ginger and green onion into thin slices.
- Heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a saucepan or a pot with some depth. When the oil is getting hot, add the ginger slices. Stir and toss for about a minute until the ginger’s fragrance is released, then add the green onion and stir for another half a minute.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the tomato wedges and a pinch of kosher salt. Gently stir and toss until the tomatoes’ juice is released. Then add the 1 tablespoon of ketchup and mix well.
- After stirring for about another 1 or 2 minutes, add the chicken stock or water and tofu pieces. Cover with the lid. Increase the heat to medium-high heat again.
- After the stock is boiling, remove the lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover the lid and let simmer for another 10 minutes until the tofu is infused with flavors.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid and set the heat to medium-high. Add the marinated fish fillet pieces and quickly combine everything.
- Gently swirl for about 1 minute until the fish is cooked through. Turn off the heat, add the 1 tablespoon of cilantro leaves. Mix well.
- Either fresh or previously frozen fish fillet works well. Here, I used previously frozen tilapia fish fillets. But any mild flavored fish fillets, such as flounder and basa would work.
- There are several types of cooking wine used in Chinese cuisine, mainly the Shaoxing cooking wine and the rice cooking wine. Either Chinese cooking wine works. If you are using rice cooking wine, make sure it’s actually a cooking wine and not rice vinegar. If you don’t have any Chinese cooking wine, you can substitute it with equal amount of dry sherry, sake, or dry white wine.
- I got the tofu from Trader Joe’s. It comes in a plastic container. I used half the container for this dish. Medium firmness tofu works the best for this recipe since the medium-firm tofu has a similar degree of softness as the fish fillet. Soft tofu would not hold its shape and would fall apart easily. Firm or extra firm tofu would work too, but not as well as medium firm tofu.
- Can be substituted with Italian parsley.