Szechuan-Style Sliced Fish

Course : Fish
Serves: 6
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1 pound fresh red snapper or -- grouper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 ounce tree ears
1 large red bell pepper
2 ounces snow peas
2 ounces water chestnuts
1 piece peeled ginger root
1 medium scallion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sherry
2 cups peanut oil -- for frying

Preparation / Directions:

Slice the fish into pieces 1/3 in. thick and 2 in. square. Combine the fish with the corn- starch, egg white, and 1 tsp. peanut oil, and let stand for 20 minutes. Cover the tree ears with warm water and let stand for 20 minutes. Core and seed the red pepper and cut it into 1 in. squares. Snap the snow peas. Rinse the water chestnuts. Cut the ginger into thin slivers, the scallion, into thin slices, and finely chop the garlic. Combine the ingredients for the sauce. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan- it should be very hot before adding the fish. Add the fish, piece by piece, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the fish with a slotted spoon to a strainer over a bowl to catch the oil. Discard all but 1/4 cup oil from wok and heat it again. Add the ginger, scallion, and garlic, and stir-fry over high heat for 10 seconds. Add the pepper, water chestnuts, and pea pods, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the tree ear and fish. Thoroughly mix the sauce and add it to the wok. Cook the fish, stirring gently, for 1 minute , or until the sauce thickens. This recipe calls for a slippery black fungus called tree ears in North America, cloud ears in China, and jelly mushrooms in Thailand. Tree ears have very little flavor and are chiefly prized for their slippery, crisp consistency. Available dried at Oriental markets, tree ears will keep indefinitely. They need only be soak- ed in warm water for 20 minutes before using.

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