2smallish whole fishscaled, gutted with heads on or off
1/2cupShaoxing wine or sherry
2heads garlic,cloves peeled but whole
1/3cuplard or vegetable oil
4tablespoonsChinese red chile bean paste
1tablespoonpotato starch or corn starch,dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1tablespoonChinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
Wash the fish well and marinate with the Shaoxing wine and salt for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat the lard or oil in a wok over medium heat and gently cook the garlic cloves until they are a little wrinkly on the outside, but still white. Do not let them brown. Set the cooked garlic aside for now.
Turn the heat to high. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, and when the lard is hot, fry the fish in batches for 2 minutes per side. Set the fish aside as you finish.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the lard (save the excess for another Chinese dish). Cook the chile bean paste in the oil for 30 seconds, stirring often. Add the ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce and sugar. Gently put the fish in the wok and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down to a gently simmer and cook the fish 6 minutes.
Carefully flip the fish over and add the garlic. Cook another 6 minutes.
Remove the fish and garlic to a platter and turn up the heat on the sauce. Boil the sauce furiously until it has been reduced by 1/3, about 3-4 minutes.
Stir the potato starch mixture and stir half into the sauce. If it is thick enough for you, stop. If not, stir in the other half of the potato starch mixture. Let this boil 1 minute.
Turn off the heat, add the green onions and the vinegar, and pour the sauce over the fish. Serve immediately with white rice.