Recipe courtesy of Ching-He Huang

Wok-Cooked Monkfish with Sesame Soy Sauce

Fish is traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year because the Mandarin word for fish is 'Yu' and during the festival there is a phrase called 'Nian nian you yu', which translates as 'Every year you have abundance' - whether it's wealth, luck, happiness, good health or all of the above! In addition to the usual 'Gong xi fa cai' (wishing good fortune), this is a popular phrase. The Chinese serve the fish whole, as it symbolises unity and 'completeness'. When using fillets, the 'incompleteness' can be compensated for by serving uncut whole wheat noodles (uncut noodles symbolise longevity) with a soy, sesame and spring onion sauce to drizzle over the dish.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 28 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cook: 8 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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3 tablespoons groundnut oil

2 (12-ounce) monkfish fillets or 2 cod fillets, washed, seasoned with salt and pepper and cut into 6 smaller fillets* 

4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped 

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped 

1 medium red chile, seeded and finely chopped 

4 to 5 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 spring onions (green), sliced into thin strips

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Serving suggestion: Steamed asparagus and broccoli florets, scented rice and dressed whole wheat noodles


  1. Heat some groundnut oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the fish to the wok, pressing lightly on the fillets as they cook. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium. 
  2. Turn the fish over and sprinkle the garlic, ginger and chile over the fillets. Cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet, until the flesh has turned opaque and flakes when poked at with a fork or a pair of chopsticks. 
  3. Season the fish with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the spring onion strips and chopped cilantro and cook until the herbs have wilted slightly. 
  4. To serve, garnish the fillets with the wilted herbs and serve immediately with the steamed vegetables or the scented rice and noodles if using.

Cook’s Note

Cod is a great alternative to monkfish in this recipe, but keep the skin on and cook skin-side down first until crisp and golden. Ensure when buying cod though it comes from sustainable sources.

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