Falling in love

By Dong Fangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-05-16 07:30:56

Falling in love

Pineapple rice. [Photo by Dong Fangyu/China Daily]

We tried this odorous eat, not smelly at all to the palate; instead, it left a lingering, burning aftertaste because it was smoked and then braised with Hunan red chilies.

One way to tell whether the stinky Mandarin fish is good or not is to use chopsticks to push the fish: the meat of well-fermented mandarin fish will shred off the bones in the shape of garlic flakes.

The peerless classic Hunan dish - fish head with chopped chilies - was wonderful, probably the best version I have ever had. Even my companion, who generally shuns fish, was smitten.

It is prepared with the head of a bighead carp cultivated for four years from Dongting Lake, China's second-largest freshwater lake, in northeastern Hunan province. Because of the large size, the meat inside was substantial. The cheeks, eyeballs, and all the flesh around each part took on different textures, creating a combination of chewy and succulent.

The fish head is stewed unfurled under a layer of Hunan-style salted green chili sauce and ginger. It is mildly spicy, not to overpower the savory fish flesh drenched with the broth.

What we tried was half the fish head. There are more choices in the chilies for diners. A popular way is to order a whole fish head under a coat of chopped bi-colored chilies, half green, and half red.

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