Chinese panfried stuffed pepper (煎釀青椒)
Yesterday I was wondering how to cook these long green peppers from our vegetable garden. I thought it would be a good idea to showcase how the Chinese (Cantonese) would make them.
The Chinese panfried stuffed pepper is very common in dim sum restaurants or as a street food.
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 100% trustworthy to eat.
I have seen several recipes for this dish called for prawn mince but personally I find the prawn mince is rather too strong so instead I have mixed with fish and I have chosen to use Pangasius fish which the outcome was incredibly good and far better than my expectation. Even my two family members at home who have never tried this dish, especially the little boy felt a bit skeptical at the beginning, but once made their first bite, both put their thumbs up and the little boy asked if he could finish the last piece. I have now trained him to be an adventurous eater, hahaha!
I am very glad that I have been able to make this dish doable even being far away from Hong Kong. Also adding the pangasius fish makes the taste not dominated by the prawns.
So to cut the story short, here is the recipe I have adapted from a Snake Wong Fun Cookbook, a cookbook published by a famous local restaurant in Hong Kong (written in Chinese).
- 275g prawns shell removed and deveined (about 22 medium sized prawns)
- 1 pangasius fish fillet (prawns : fish ratio = 2:1), you can use cod fish as substitute or just use all prawns if desired*
- 2 long green peppers or 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow/ orange bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- approx 1/2 cup Coriander/ Cilantro leaves only, briefly chopped (optional but I find it enhances and blend well with the paste)
- sunflower or extra virgin olive oil
- Cleaver (Knife)
- Thick chopping board, wooden one is preferred if possible
- 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- pinches of white pepper
- 2 tsp Li Kam Kee garlic black bean sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup (120ml) water
- 1/2 tsp cornflour dissolved in a little water
- 1 tsp chinese rice cooking wine
- 1 tsp chicken bouillion powder
- You can make this prawn/ fish paste a few hours in advance and keep in the fridge
- Dehead and devein the prawns, rinse the prawns in tap water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- 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 (Fig. ).
- 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 coriander and mix well. IMPORTANT: only stir in one direction, if you have started clockwise, stick to it.
- 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 which I referred to earlier on in my post. 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 50-60cm 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dust the inside of the pepper with a little cornflour and using a knife, spread the prawn/ fish paste on the pepper.
- 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, panfry for 2-3 minutes until light yellow brown. Turn the peppers to the other side and let them panfry of another 2 mins or so. Just watch out they may get burnt if leave for too long.
- Transfer the cooked stuffed peppers onto large flat plates lined with kitchen paper to absorb the oil.
- To prepare the black bean sauce, in a small saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil and then add in the black bean sauce. 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.
- Transfer the stuffed pepper to serving plates and pour the black bean sauce on top or separately on side. Now ready to serve. In addition, you can also serve with sweet and sour chili sauce or a dark soy sauce cooked with some sugar.
- This dish can be served as an appetizer at dinner parties or served with rice.
Enjoy! It seems quite a bit of work but it’s all worth it and will surely impress your guests !!!
- - I recommend chopping using a cleaver as the large knife has more weight and make the chopping process faster than using smaller knives. The thick or wooden chopping board will make the chopping more comfortable and more stable, as a lighter and thinner chopping board will make it move around, you can try to lay a wet cloth underneath the chopping board if you only have a thin chopping board at home.
- - Apart from using peppers, we also like stuffing firm tofu and eggplants. Feel free to try out. If you make all three, then we call this dish as Panfried Three Treasures (煎釀三寶).