As the purists will tell you: fried dace with salted black beans is best eaten straight out of the can with plain steamed rice or rice congee. These purists are absolutely correct. However, fried dace with salted black beans is intensely flavorful, and it can be used as a protein-rich seasoning ingredient, as shown here. In this recipe, the well-loved Cantonese product is paired with stir-fried Chinese broccoli, a vegetable also heavily used in Cantonese cuisine. The garlic and the chiles are there to brighten things up. All of the ingredients are commonly found at most Asian markets.
- Separate the Chinese broccoli leaves, along with the tender stems, from the stalks. Cut the leaves and stems crosswise about 2 inches long. Cut the stalks on a sharp diagonal (about 30° angle) into 2-inch sticks. (If using the crowns of regular broccoli, cut them into bite-size florets.)
- Empty the can of fried dace into a bowl; use a small rubber spatula to scrape every bit of the flavorful oil into the bowl. Use two forks to shred the fish meat into small pieces, about the size of a mini Tootsie Roll.
- Heat a wok or a 12-inch skillet on high heat. When hot, add the oil, garlic, and chiles; stir constantly until fragrant-you should be sneezing a little-then add the broccoli. Stir-fry until the broccoli wilts just so slightly, less than a minute. Add the fish along with the black beans and every drop of the oil; stir until everything is warmed through with the broccoli still bright green, tender-crisp, and thoroughly interspersed with the fish bits and the black beans, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer to a plate and serve with plain jasmine rice.
Leela Punyaratabandhu is the author of Simple Thai Food and winner of the Art of Eating Prize, Bangkok. Epicurious has named her one of the 100 greatest home cooks of all time.