Zing zing tempura sea bass

Zing zing tempura sea bass

Chinese Unchopped
30 mins
Cooking time
10 mins
Martin Poole

Just after we opened School of Wok a slightly loud, bespectacled man approached me asking whether I would be interested in helping to create a menu for his new line of Chinese takeaways. After numerous discussions with him about his fresh ideas on takeaway food, it soon became our mission to show people they deserve better than the mediocre, greasy fare from the local takeout that we have all become much too comfortable with and accepting of. So I created this dish, along with many others for his now successful restaurant. Note to self: always trust a man with thick-rimmed glasses… or at least his recipe for success.


Quantity Ingredient
5 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves
1 spring onion
1 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns
2 x 100-150g sea bass fillets, skin on
vegetable oil, for frying

The batter

Quantity Ingredient
100g plain flour
20g cornflour
1 egg white
250ml very cold soda water

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
30g granulated sugar, dissolved in 50ml hot water
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce


  1. Put the dried red chillies in a small bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and roughly chop.
  2. Finely slice the garlic and cut the spring onion into thin rings. Crush the Sichuan peppercorns with a pestle and mortar or whiz them together in a spice grinder or coffee grinder to form a powder.
  3. Keeping the skin on, slice the fish fillets into large diagonal pieces roughly 3cm wide.
  4. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl or ramekin.
  5. To make the batter, sieve the flours together in a separate bowl, add the egg white and mix well.
  6. BUILD YOUR WOK CLOCK: place your fish pieces at 12 o’clock, then arrange the garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, chillies, sauce bowl and spring onion clockwise around your plate.
  7. Half-fill a large pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or until the tip of a wooden chopstick or skewer starts to fizz after a second or so in the oil.
  8. Pour the cold soda water into the batter and mix well with a whisk until smooth and thin with the consistency of single cream.
  9. Dip the fish chunks into the batter, then carefully lower them into the preheated oil and fry for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the fish pieces carefully with a slotted spoon and drain well on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
  10. In a separate wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until smoking. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds until it starts to brown. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chillies, then pour over the sauce and bring to a vigorous boil. Add the fish pieces and toss through two to three times to mix everything together. Transfer to a serving plate and scatter over the spring onion to finish. Serve immediately.


  • Do not keep the fish in the wok any longer than it takes to toss through two or three times, or it will start to lose its crispiness due to excess heat and moisture.
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