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Historically, Beijing relied upon the neighbouring provinces of Hebei, Tianjin and Shandong for its seafood and other fresh produce, which because of the transportation involved were preserved using various drying methods. However, today with modern transportation, produce from Shandong can arrive in the markets in Beijing within a day and fresh catches such as sea bass are a prized restaurant dish.

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  • 2.5cm/1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into long thin strips

  • 1 spring onions, sliced into long strips

  • 1 whole wild sea bass (550g/11/4lb), de-scaled, gutted, cleaned and skin scored

  • 2 tablespoons Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

  • For the hot ginger lime and beer sauce

  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated root ginger

  • zest of 1 lime

  • 330ml bottle Chinese beer or any light beer

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

  • 1 spring onions, sliced into long strips (deleted “or samphire”)

  • 1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks, roughly chopped


  • 1.

    Either drape some of the ginger and spring onion strips across the fish or tuck them within the scores in the skin, then put the rest inside the fish. Place the fish on a heatproof plate or dish (see Ching’s tips) and pour the rice wine or sherry over it. Place the plate in a large bamboo steamer (see Ching’s tips) and cover, then place on top of a pan of boiling water (making sure the water does not touch the base of the steamer). Steam the fish for 8–10 minutes (depending on the size of the fish) until the flesh flakes when poked with chopsticks. Turn off the heat and leave the fish in the steamer.

  • 2.

    To make the sauce, heat a large pan or wok and heat the groundnut oil. Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the lime zest, followed by the beer and soy sauce. Stir and, as the liquid comes to the boil, add the spring onions and coriander, then take off the heat immediately.

  • 3.

    Remove the plate and fish from the bamboo steamer, pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately with some steamed wild and basmati rice.

  • Tips:

  • 1.

    When choosing the dish for steaming the sea bass, choose one that you are happy to use as a serving dish too (this saves having to transfer the fish and means less washing up), but it should be heatproof. Also make sure that the dish is deep enough to hold all the delicious sauce.

  • 2.

    If you don’t have a large enough steamer, place the fish on a heatproof plate and put on a roasting rack in a tin. Put the tin in the oven and carefully pour boiling water into the tin. Cover with foil and cook for 8–10 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6, or until the flesh flakes when poked and has turned opaque.



  • To help vegetables cook in the wok, add a splash or two of water to help create some “steam” whilst stir frying.
  • Use msg free products where possible.
  • Groundnut oil can be substituted with vegetable oil, sunflower oil or corn oil.
  • A large number of dishes can be adapted to suit vegetarians. Look out for where you can substitute the meat for tofu or vegetables and use vegetarian sauces.
  • Use low sodium soy sauce where possible


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