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Salt and Pepper Fish

Salt and Pepper Fish

Traditionally, the fish for this classic Chinese dish is battered and deep-fried. It's amazing what a little bit of butter, a dash of vinegar, and some salt and sugar can do.


  • 1 cup short-grain sushi rice
  • 8 scallions, dark green parts and white parts separated
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated peeled ginger (from about one 1” piece)
  • 3 Tbsp. neutral oil, divided
  • 1½ lb. skinless, boneless cod, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Recipe Preparation

  • Rinse rice in several changes of cold water in a medium bowl until water runs clear. Drain well, then transfer to a small saucepan. Pour in 1¼ cups cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Give rice a stir so grains don’t stick to the bottom. Cover pot and reduce heat to lowest setting. Cook, undisturbed, until water is evaporated and rice is tender, 18–20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, still covered, 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, thinly slice dark green scallion parts into rounds. Thinly slice white parts on a steep diagonal. Keep separated.

  • Mix ginger and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Add cod; season with salt and plenty of pepper (about 2 tsp.). Toss to coat.

  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add cod and cook, undisturbed, until golden underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn fish pieces, then scatter white scallion parts over. Cook, shaking the pan a bit, until fish is cooked through and some scallions are caramelized and some are just slightly softened, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

  • Stir vinegar and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir into rice. Add butter and sliced scallion greens; gently stir until butter melts. Season with salt.

  • Transfer rice to a platter and top with fish; pour any pan juices over.

Reviews SectionMade this last night. Used talapia instead of cod. It was easy to make, and really delicious. I had some of the fish stick to my pan when i flipped, but i was able to scrape it up with my rubber spatula. Mixing those browned bits of fish with the caramelized scallions was my favorite part to eat.EvaneezerscroogeLos Angeles08/06/20Swapped the fish for thinly sliced extra firm tofu and added about 4x as many scallions than called for. Simple, tasty, and surprisingly flexible.This recipe is delicious! The perfect midweek meal!I finished mine with a dash of Marukan Yuzu Ponzu to bring a bit of brightness, yum!evangelinemaryDenver, CO08/05/20This turned out VERY well. I learned to cook later in life and have a hard time impressing my hubby (he's an awesome cook). He LOVED this dish. I used a microplane to grate a 1" of ginger, and used all the scallions recommended. Really delish. I used cod. I put a lid on while cooking the fish and it ended up more "saucy" than "golden". Also: good quality sushi rice is key.cyanowskiFort Collins07/28/20This was extremely bland. Aside from the pepper there really wasn't much in the way of flavor. I think whitefish really needs to be deepfried. ;-)Very tasty. The rice alone is very good, we added sesame seasoned shredded nori flakes as well. We made our fish as large chunks, and the result was very good, tender bites of fish. A very restrained recipe so it's a great example of the better quality your ingredients (the white fish, the rice), the better the end result IMO.This recipe is simple, yet AMAZING. I would HIGHLY recommend.Several people have commented on salt. The recipe says salt and liberally pepper the fish (2 tsp). That means 2 tsp pepper! It doesn't specify the amount of salt...AnonymousGettysburg, PA05/15/20So so so good and has been a staple in our house for a while. I usually cut the salt in half, maybe even more than half but otherwise stick to the recipe.The rice is amazing and could be used beyond this recipe, but there’s something missing to make the flavors come out even more. Maybe using salted butter rather than unsalted, or throwing a dash of citrus in at the end would help? Next time....!AnonymousJersey City 05/14/20Great recipe! The fish was too salty for my taste (I cut the salt in half to 1 TSP) and the rice I feel like would have been fine with just 1 TBSP of butter. Otherwise, fish was flaky and tasty with the ginger!Just made this with black cod and it was delicious! Will definitely make again. Served with Chile crunch on top obviouslyAnonymousSan Francisco 04/16/20WOW so good! I squeezed some lemon, salt, and pepper on my plate to give it some added pop. Can't wait to make it again. Maybe I eat big servings, but I do not get 4 servings out of this recipe but now I know for next time!AnonymousWisconsin04/15/20Ok, I liked this -- but I felt it needed more flavour. I added blistered green beans and roasted red pepper on the side. My cod kept falling apart so I think I used too much oil on the sear :(AnonymousWinnipeg04/05/20This recipe was delicious - both the fish and rice were fabulous! Would make again.AnonymousVirginia03/17/20So delicious!! Needed a bit more rice vinegar & soy sauce for my taste. Amazingly simple and easy. Cuts the fishy smell of fishAnonymousCalifornia03/11/20Delicious and so simple and easy to whip up! The rice is truly essential to this- don't skip dressing it!wardemma6Denver, CO03/09/20Really simple but big flavor recipe. Not a big fan of cod so I subbed tilapia. The rice was a real game changer for me. The vinegar with the butter was delicious. although I thought it could maybe use a bit more acid from maybe citrus. Anyway, 10/10 would recommendWhipped this up so quickly. And it was a hit with the fam!Can I use oil, instead of butter??

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