Quick-Braised Red Snapper

braised red snapper
Photo: Christopher Testani
Prep Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

You can cook a whole fish in a flash if you use a wok. In this riff on the classic Chinese-restaurant dish, red snapper and scallions are braised in a fragrant garlic- and ginger-infused oil.


  • ¾ cup Shaoxing wine, dry sake, or dry sherry

  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably reduced-sodium

  • 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 whole red snapper (about 2 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil

  • 1 piece ginger (2 inches), peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise, and cut into matchsticks (¼ cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (2 tablespoons)

  • 2 red finger peppers, thinly sliced (seeds removed for less heat, if desired)

  • 1 bunch scallions (about 7), trimmed and cut into 2 ½-inch pieces

  • Steamed white or brown rice, for serving (optional)


  1. In a bowl, combine wine, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirring until sugar has dissolved; set aside. Pat fish very dry; make 3 diagonal slashes at 2-inch intervals on each side. Sprinkle fish all over with remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

  2. Preheat a wok or large skillet over high until smoking hot, about 2 minutes. Carefully add oil and wait until it shimmers, 10 to 15 seconds. Add ginger and garlic; reduce heat to medium-high and cook until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a plate with a fork or slotted spoon.

  3. Swirl oil around wok to evenly coat. Add fish and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown at bottom edges and it no longer sticks to pan (test by shaking vigorously; fish should slide back and forth when ready to flip), about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on second side, 5 minutes more. Flip again. Return ginger mixture to wok, along with wine mixture, peppers, and scallions. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, spooning braising liquid over top of fish constantly, until thickened slightly and fish is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately, with rice.

Cook's Notes

Wok cooking is all about speed and high heat. To ensure that nothing burns, preheat the wok and have ingredients measured, prepped, and next to the stovetop before starting.

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