Fish,  Stir-fry,  Under $1,  Zi-char

Chinese Stir-Fry: Black Bean Fish Fillet


It’s gonna be a busy, busy November for me. Indeed, with the wedding date inching nearer, I am busy going on a diet! I am a last minute bride, I swear. I had months to lose weight but was busy eating potato chips during our home movie sessions! But those potato chips tasted so good. #YOLO is all I can say. And I’ve been using it wayy too many times this year :)

Looks like lunch and dinner this few weeks have gotta be quickfixes without much prep work (no braised pork belly, me thinks), but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be delicious! Take this recipe for example. It is so simple but so presentable (I suggest adding red and green peppers!), you could serve a portion with rice and make it a one-dish meal like how they do it at zi-char stalls.

As you might know by now, I do a lot of Chinese stir-fry because it is quick and easy, and most importantly, it is what my two aunts are used to eating. I don’t know if this has anything to do with us being Teochew, but they sure love anything cooked in black bean sauce. I made slow cooker bittergourd for them a few days back and they even compared it to my grandmother’s version.

I’ve never met my grandmother, and no.. as much as I love to cook, I don’t believe that anything that I cook can even come close to my grandma’s cooking. I’m sure she made everything “from scratch” though (chuckles), and I take what some would say the “easy way out” by not fermenting my own black beans. Good for you la, if you do that or grow your own bean sprouts. I know of a lady who did.. and she’s none other than Lily Ng from Lily’s Wai Sek Hong. She probably doesn’t even know that I exist but she’s kitchen God in my eyes and I truly admire and respect her! Hop on over to her blog. You might never come back! LOL.

Makes 2 servings

What I used:

1 piece good quality sutchi fish (or you can use any chunky white fish)
3 slices ginger
1 yellow onion, chopped into small wedges (quartered, then half each piece. I don’t know how you call it, eighth-ed? haha)
1 red chilli or chilli padi, sliced
2 tablespoon cornstarch solution (half tablespoon cornstartch mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Lee Kum Kee black bean garlic sauce
1 sachet sugar
1 tablespoon chinese cooking wine (hua diao jiu)
A dash of white pepper
A dash of fish sauce

1. Clean and pat dry the sutchi fish, then chop into chunks (about 2 inches across).
2. Heat up the oil in a frying pan, fry the onions and ginger til fragrant. Add the fish and seasonings and fry for 3-4 minutes, then add water. Stir gently to combine as you don’t want to break up the fish.
3. Cook til water is bubbling. Add cornstarch solution and cook til thickened. Garnish with sliced chilli and serve with warm rice or noodles.

How much I spent:

$1.40 for sutchi fish
$0.30 for onion
Everything else from my pantry!

Total cost per serving: $0.85

This is a super easy stir-fry which took all of ten minutes in the frying pan. I would have added chopped bell peppers (green and red!) but I didn’t have them on hand. Looks like I gotta cook them again next time!


  • Teo Ai Li

    Hi, if I am cooking 2pcs of fish, do I double everything in the above recipe (from ginger, water, oil to fish sauce)? Thanks!

    • Chris-budgetpantry

      You can keep to 1 tablespoons black bean sauce as it’s quite salty. Add more water if you like more gravy and adjust to taste.