Friday, April 2, 2010

Chinese Pan Fried Stuffed Pepper In Black Bean Sauce (煎釀青椒)

The Chinese pan fried stuffed pepper is very common in dim sum restaurants. I would watch my dad do it from scratch over and over as a little girl, and every now and then, I would sneak one away from my dad's batch. Soooo good.

The two main differences between the Chinese method to the Western method are that:
■The Chinese pan-fry these stuffed peppers instead of roasting them in the oven or on the grill
■Prawn/fish mince (蝦膠) is used as stuffing instead of minced pork/beef in general, although this is also used but seafood minced makes the dish more classy and if the prawn/fish paste is made good enough, it should give you a smooth and bouncy texture which pork and beef cannot easily give the same results.

To be honest with you , nowadays it is so convenient to eat-out, most people will eat this dish in local restaurants. Even making at home, we can buy the ready-prepared fish paste from large local supermarkets or fish mongers. Meanwhile, as far as I know ready-prepared prawn/ shrimp mince is not accessible as prawns are more expensive and need to be freshly prepared and consumed within a few hours to retain the freshness. The owners cannot afford the high cost lost if not being able to sell them all that day. One advantage of course is that to make this at home, you know what you have put in and is 100% trustworthy to eat. I would always make a big batch and freeze my paste in little containers until I am ready to use it. It seems quite a bit of work but it’s all worth it and will surely impress your guests !!!

Chinese Pan Fried Stuffed Pepper In Black Bean Sauce (煎釀青椒)

22 medium sized prawns shell removed and divined
1 fish fillet (prawns : fish ratio = 2:1)
10 dried shrimps, soaked for 2 hours then rinsed and minced finely
1/2 lb small baby green peppers
approx 1/2 cup Cilantro (leaves only) + green onions, briefly chopped (optional but I find it enhances and blend well with the paste)
grape seed oil

Seasonings for prawn/ fish paste (蝦膠):
1 tablespoon black sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon cornflour
pinches of white pepper

Black bean sauce:
2 teaspoons crushed Chinese black beans
1 - 2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1/2 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water
1 tsp Chinese rice cooking wine
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/4 cup minced cilantro/green onions mixture

Step 1:
You can make this prawn/ fish paste a few hours in advance and keep in the fridge

Step 2:
Remove head and devine the prawns, rinse the prawns in tap water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Step 3:
Finely chop the prawns into paste using the cleaver, when the prawns look sticky, stop chopping as it is not good to over chopped. Transfer the prawn paste to a large mixing bowl. Rinse the fish fillet and pat dry. Chop the fish into a fine paste, don’t over chop also. Transfer the fish paste to the mixing bowl.

Step 4:
Mix the prawn and fish paste well with the above seasonings using a large wooden spoon. You have to mix the paste by moving the arms briskly until you see a sticky paste. Good for your Work out!!! When the paste is ready, add in the cilantro/green onions, finely minced Chinese dried shrimp and mix well.

Only stir in one direction, if you have started clockwise, stick to it.

Step 5:
This step is the critical part and the fun part. After achieving a sticky paste in step 4, you are almost there. By walking a step further, you should achieve a smooth and BOUNCY paste. Choose a big round bowl which you can hold with one hand like a baseball glove. Scoop out the prawn/fish paste with your other hand and throw the paste into the bowl from about 50-60 cm distance. Repeat for about 10-15 times. You may have a little paste splash out in the meantime but don’t bother at this point of time, clean up afterwards.

Step 6:
When step 5 is done, transfer the paste onto a clean bowl and keep in the fridge (NOT FREEZER) and let it rest for at least 5 mins to let the excess moist or water content to be absorbed by the cold environment in the fridge, also make the paste more smooth and bouncy. Your paste is now ready to be used anytime when you are ready to cook.

Step 7:
Wash and dry the peppers, cut into half, remove seeds and the white lining inside. Cut the pepper into pieces, square or rectangular shapes as desired.

Step 8:
Dust the inside of the pepper with a little cornflour and using a knife, spread the prawn/ fish paste on the pepper.

Step 9:
Heat about 0.5 cm thick of olive oil in a large flat pan, when the oil is hot enough, turn to medium high heat and gently lay the stuffed peppers on the pan with the paste facing down, pan fry for 2-3 minutes until light yellow brown. Turn the peppers to the other side and let them pan fry of another 2 mins or so. Just watch out they may get burnt if leave for too long.

Step 10:
Transfer the cooked stuffed peppers onto large flat plates lined with kitchen paper to absorb the oil.

Step 11:
To prepare the black bean sauce, in a small saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil and then add in the crushed black beans and minced garlic/shallots. When hot enough, turn to medium high heat and gradually add in the rice cooking wine, sugar, bouillon powder and water. Stir to mix, when it is bubbling, thicken the sauce by adding in the cornflour water mixture.

Step 12:
Transfer the stuffed pepper to serving plates and pour the black bean sauce on top or separately on side or in my case, I like to transfer my stuffed peppers into the sauce, simmer for few minutes and add some cilantro/green onions mixture.

This dish can be served as an appetizer at dinner parties or served with rice.



  1. Can I use a food processor to chopped up the shrimp and fish?

  2. You can if you want, just don't overblend it as it turns very rubbery .....

  3. So if I want to be less classy and use pork instead of prawns, how much ground pork should I use to equal the weight of your seafood mix?