Fish is usually served whole in my hometown, esp. in parties, celebrations, and ceremonies. A headless, tailless fish is considered incomplete and unaesthetic. According to chef Sam (my favourite chef from HK), besides superstitious reason, a practical reason for leaving the fish intact is fewer juice escape during the cooking process.
Have fish cleaned, drained and cut into 2 segments. Rub fish segments with rice wine and salt. Heat oil in a heavy pan until 175C/350F. Gently lower in fish and pan-fry until golden on each side. Drain on a kitchen towel and set aside.
- Leave a little oil in the same pan, add in star anise and pepper corns. Stir until fragrant. Take away the star anise and pepper corns. Add in ginger, garlic and onion, pouring in some stock or water. Then add in rice wine, soya sauce, salt, sugar and vinegar, returning the prepared fish into the pan. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Arrange the fish on a serving plate. Thicken the sauce with the starchy solution and pour over the fish. Drizzle the sesame oil over and serve immediately.