Despite marinating the fish, this soup is so quick and easy. Warm up with a flavorful bowl, even on a weeknight.
By The Woks of Life
I would like to share our newfound love: this easy Fish and Tofu Soup. Winter is here, and we could all use a good bowl of soup to warm us up.
This dish is a great combination of two dishes I love: Shui Zhu Yu (???) and Fish Tofu Soup. Shui Zhu Yu is a Sichuan dish of fish boiled in oil, with bean sprouts, chilis, and Sichuan peppercorns. I love the dish, but it involves a LOT of oil. As for Fish Tofu Soup, it’s usually done with a whole fish, which is pan-fried and then added to a stock to boil.
This soup is much easier:
There’s no need to deal with cleaning a whole fish (heads, tails and all that).
You don’t have to pan-fry a fish, which can make your whole house smell like a seafood restaurant in Chinatown.
We’re using fillets, so you don’t have to sort through pesky bones.
It’s way less oily than the Sichuan classic.
The first time I had this soup was at a restaurant called Grand Sichuan in Jersey City, and I thought it was brilliant. The boneless fish is tender and tasty, the soup is superb, and it’s actually pretty healthy.
The key is to marinate the fish first so it’s tasty and moist. As you can see, this soup is super easy and fast. It’s special enough for the weekend and fast enough for a weekday as well.
- 8 oz. tilapia or catfish fillet, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1-2 thinly sliced ginger
- A handful of sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms (reconstituted dried shiitakes are also fine)
- 6 dried red chilies (optional, but they certainly add some nice heat)
- A handful of soybean sprouts (mung bean sprouts will also work)
- 4 cups good chicken stock
- 1½ cups fresh water
- A handful of cut Napa cabbage
- ½ block firm tofu, sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt, to taste
- Chopped scallion
- Chopped cilantro
- Start by marinating the fish. Mix the fish and marinade ingredients together in a bowl and set aside while you prep the other ingredients (about 15-20 minutes). You should have all the ingredients ready to go before you turn on the stove!
- When you’re ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add the ginger and mushrooms, and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Stir in the dried chilies, if using, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the bean sprouts and stir for another minute.
- Add the chicken stock, water, Napa cabbage, sliced tofu, and sesame oil. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste.
- Once boiling, lay each piece of fish on the surface of the soup (do this one by one. You don’t want the fish to stick together in one clump). The heat should still be medium high to high. Carefully move the fish around the soup so each piece gets submerged in the hot liquid. Bring the soup to boil, and it’s done. Serve with scallion and cilantro on top.
- The key is to marinate the fish first so not bland. As you can see, this soup is super easy and fast. It’s special enough for the weekend and fast enough for a weekday as well. Enjoy!
The Woks of Life is a blog written by a family of four living between the U.S. & China. When not packing or unpacking suitcases, they're sharing their travels and culinary exploits--from traditional Chinese to modern dishes for the everyday cook. For all the generation X's and Y's out there who love the Chinese food their parents made, but have no idea how to make it, this family's got your back!