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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Baked Striped Bass With Vermicelli and Vegetables (Cá Vược Đút Lò)

Happy New Year!

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog nor my readers. Nor do I plan on shutting it permanently, even though that thought had crossed my mind once in a while. But the truth is that my laptop has been acting weird for the last half of the year. It took me hours just to type up a paragraph. Thanks to my  husband who didn't want me to give up on writing so he surprised me with a brand new one.

As the Lunar New Year of 2018 is fast approaching - it's on February 16th this year - let us welcome the year of the dog. There're many traditions and customs for the lunar new year in each country of the countries that celebrate it - China, Korea, Vietnam. Food apparently plays a large part in every country.  From the foodie's point of view, there is no better way to celebrate and learn about lunar new year traditions than through food. Every dish has symbolism deeply rooted in its culture. For instant, fish is a must-have dish in any Chinese new year dinner as it's a symbol of prosperity and surplus.

So, while I was browsing through the clearance section at William Sonoma, I couldn't help myself when I spotted this beautiful red terra-cotta fish baker. Right away, it brought back fond memories of my dear friend and wonderful boss Ellen - when I was employed with the state - who always included us as part of her family and invited us to celebrate Chinese new year at her house every year. Fish was one of the dishes that she always had on the dinner table. As I stared at the fish baker, I knew I had to bake a fish for dinner that night. The striped bass I bought from Costco fitted just perfectly in it. I lay the fish on layers of sweet onion and mushrooms then tucked both sides of the fish with sweet peppers, vermicelli, green onion, and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper. It didn’t take much to be a happy camper as the fish came out from the oven beautifully and tasted so yummy.

If you like this Terra-Cotta Fish Baker as much as I do, it’s available at online William Sonoma for half off.
RECIPE: Baked Striped Bass With Vermicelli
for the fish 
1 whole striped bass
2 bunches vermicelli
1 pack beech or king oyster mushrooms
8-10 sweet baby bell peppers
1 large sweet onion
green onion
freshly ground black pepper
1 bulb of garlic
for the sauce
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet cooking rice wine
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
small piece of ginger, peeled, julienned 
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Preparing Ingredients for Fish

Fish - gut, scale, trim the fins from the fish, rinse and pat dry. Set aside.

Vermicelli - soak in warm water until soft, drain, and cut into shorter length.

Mushrooms - I love mushroom in general, but my favorite types are king oyster and beech mushroom. King oyster mushroom also known as king trumpet mushroom is sweet, mellow, meaty, and tastes like abalone while beech mushroom has a crunchy texture, delicate, mild flavor that is sweet and deliciously nutty. If you use king oyster mushroom, slice however you prefer - crosswise or lengthwise thinly. Set aside.

Bell Peppers - cut into strips or cut crosswise into rings. Set aside.

Onion - cut crosswise into rings. Set aside.

Green Onion - cut into an inch length.

Garlic - slightly smash, and peel.  Set aside. 

Place slices of onion on the bottom of the baking dish.

Place mushroom on top of layer of onion.

Lay fish on the bed of onion and mushrooms. 

Insert garlic inside the fish's belly. 

Tuck both sides of the fish with sweet peppers, vermicelli, green onion, and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper. 

Cover the baking dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Be careful when removing the fish as the dish is really hot.  
Preparing the Sauce 

Cook shallots, garlic, and ginger in oil until tender.  Turn off the heat.  Add soy sauce and cooking rice wine.  Mix well.  


Serve fish with sauce on the side. You can also drizzle sauce over the fish, noodle, and vegetables. Serve immediately with steamed rice. 

I personally enjoy this dish by itself, especially the noodle and the mushroom.  They go well together.  

Eat well.  Stay healthy.

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