1.1/2 lbs. small crucian carp
5 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup soya sauce
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cooking wine
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons crystal sugar
5 stalks scallion (about 9 oz.)
1 tablespoon ginger root
5 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon "five-spice powder" (optional)
a pinch each of Chinese red peppercorn, anise and cinnamon
1) Scale and draw carp by opening at the belly. (Be sure not to break the gall bladders.) Wash them clean.
Cut scallion into 2-inch lengths and ginger root into slices.
Mix "five-spice powder", vinegar, cooking wine, salt and soya sauce together with 9 cups of water into a seasoning sauce.
2) Use a big clay pot or casserole and place at the bottom a porcelain dish. Scatter on the dish the red peppercorn, anise and cinnamon. Also scatter on it the ginger slices. Arrange the fish one by one on the dish.with their heads towards the wall of the pot and their tails towards the center, like the petals of a flower in bloom. Arrange the surplus fish in the center. Then put the scallion lengths evenly on the fish. Sprinkle on sugar and crystal sugar and also the sesame oil. Pour in most of the seasoning sauce (the rest to be added later). Cover this with another porcelain dish, upside down. The seasoning sauce should have the upper dish submerged.
Bring the pot or casserole to a boil on high flame. Then lower the fire to keep it simmering for 5-6 hours. In the process the sauce should be seen bubbling out from around the upper dish. When this is not the case, add some of the remaining seasoning sauce. When the fish is well stewed, remove the upper dish and leave it cool for 12 hours before serving.
(1) Bone-Crisp Crucian Carp is a celebrated cold dish from traditional Chinese cuisine and goes well with drinks and, if you prefer, also with staple food. The carp, bone and all, melts in the mouth and tastes with a good blending of sweet and sour.
(2) This recipe may be followed in preparing various sorts of small fish, the time of cooking depends on the texture of the fish used, but should in no case be less than 5 hours.