Qualms about getting your Japanese recipes from a Chinese cookbook? None here. I do have qualms about the profligrate use of hyphens in this book. Why “Japanese-style?” Whatever the reason, we are nearing the end of the month and, at eight recipes so far, we are also nearing the end of this month’s cookbook. The relationship has been spectacular, with only two “mehs,” and of those, the eggs and avocado will probably be amazing with more avocado and the Wuxi ribs should benefit from a slower cooking method. This Japanese (-) style fish is a huge check in the win column. As per usual with the cookbook of the month I will give no measurements. I know you can’t copyright a recipe, but a nod toward intellectual property is good for the constitution. If you like the way the recipe sounds, buy the book.
The recipe calls for halibut. In the notes, Cheng mentions that she chose halibut although it seems she would prefer cod. From the introduction: “cod is overfished, hence I’ve used halibut here.” I’ll say cod is overfished. Overfished to the point that scarce halibut costs $24.99 a pound while cod, plentiful in our fishermen’s nets who flood the market with their excess, costs a mere $8.99 a pound. So take your cod and cut it into fish sticks, but don’t call them that. Make up a Japanese sounding name for them. Don’t worry if an actual Japanese speaker calls you on it. You can say that you learned this recipe from a Chinese person and blame them for any possible mispronunciation. Dredge your strips of 魚棒 in cornstarch followed by egg followed by panko and them fry in (healthy!) oil until golden brown.
For the dipping sauce combine grated ginger, light soy sauce, honey, rice wine, vegetable stock that for unknown reasons we are instructed should be cold, lemon juice, and the by now ubiquitous cornstarch. Season the fish with salt, add dried pepper flakes if you like, and garnish with unnecessary (in my opinion) lemon wedges.
I had this with a light lager and was very happy. A Sancerre would have been nice. So would Cave de Prisse St. Veran. Of course, since it was fried, it would go perfectly with Torbreck “The Bothie” (actually that would be a horrid combination but there exists an inside joke that one person will delight in). We had it with wilted spinach and it served well as an entree, but I think this is best as an appetizer.