Stewed Halibut With Fermented Soya Beans (豆瓣酱半煎煮比目鱼)



I have to be frank when I was young, there are not many cooking methods for fishes in my house. Beside pan frying, braised fish with soya sauce, assam fish, fish steaming and another one is this old classic of braising fish with fermented soya beans.


Well, I do not know how to properly translate the term for this cooking and in Chawan dialect and Mandarin, it was called “半煎煮“ or “pua jian zhu”. Basically it means that the fish is pan fried first until the exterior is hardened. It is then braised in a gravy of ginger and fermented soya beans.


It is a comfort dish that goes well with rice or porridge and most Chinese granny should be able to prepare this dish.. The gravy is especially nice to eat with the rice and like my wife, she likes the shredded ginger very much ..


For today’s illustration, i have used halibut fillet. i bought a piece from the supermarket and the first thing that come to my mind is to cook it this way. I am unsure if halibut is the same as the sole fish that I ate when I was young. i know that they both  came from the same flatfish family but the one i knew is a whole fish and apparently is much smaller and unable to get such a big piece of fillet. This fish has a fishy smell, and one of the best ways of cooking the fish is braising in this strong aromatic soup to get rid of the fishy smell.


Unsure what are the reasons behind, we always used this type of cooking for fish fillets and not really whole fish. Better fishes such as threadfin can also be used but we never used in smaller fish with lots of bones like ikan selar or ikan kembong..



Servings : 3-4 adult


  • One piece of fish fillet (about 500 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon of fermented soya beans (tau cheo)
  • 5 cm long ginger , shredded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, small slices (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Dashes of white pepper (optional)



PicMonkey Collage

  • Shred the ginger and cut the garlic into small pieces.

  • Pat dry the fish and coat the fish with some corn flour . However, the coating is optional.

  • In a pan, put 1-2 tablespoons of oil, pan fried the fish until both sides are golden brown. Push the fish to one side of the pan, sauté the ginger and garlic using the cooking oil until aromatic, add the fermented soya beans. Stir fry for additional 1-2 minutes. Add adequate water to cover the fish and reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Before off the heat, add the sugar and dashes of white pepper . If preferred, starches can be added by mixing 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 3 tablespoons of plain water.



  • When pan frying fishes, do not turn the fish for the first 3-4 minutes, otherwise, the skin will break.

  • No salt shall be added to dishes cooked with fermented soya beans as it is already very salty . In the event if it is too salty, add more sugar to neutralize the saltiness.



I have been sharing this type of simple home cooked dishes as I was rather shocked that a lot of new house chefs do not know how to cook this type of simple dishes. They knew the dish, they missed it, they did not have a chance to learn from their mother and I hope my sharing will benefit this group of readers. Having said that, if you still have people to refer to , I would encourage reader to learn from them these simple dishes from them  as you know it definitely will suit your taste bud.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


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