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Classic Recipe: Steamed mulloway with mushrooms, soy-mirin broth and XO sauce

Posted: 19 November 2014 By Ezard

This is a very delicate dish we serve at ezard regularly. Mulloway, sometimes sold as sea bass or Suzuki sea bass, is a great fish to steam. It is not as flavoursome as European sea bass, but the texture is similar. Substitute whiting or sea perch if you can’t find mulloway. The fish is served in just a small amount of broth and topped with XO sauce. Green vegetables such as peas, beans and asparagus can be used instead of mushrooms if preferred.

400 ml fish stock
150 ml light soy sauce
80 g yellow rock sugar
80 ml mirin
125 ml rice-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1.5 cm piece ginger, finely shredded
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons dashi powder

1 x 1 kg mulloway fillet (skin on)

1 tablespoon peanut oil
250 g mixed fresh Asian mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, enoki, straw, shimeji or wood ear, bases trimmed if necessary, sliced/torn
1 cup garlic chives cut into batons
½ cup XO sauce (see below)


Place the broth ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from the heat. Set aside to allow the flavours to infuse while you prepare the fish and mushrooms.

Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the fish crossways. Cut the fish into six pieces. Place the fish fillets onto a lightly oiled heatproof dish and insert into a steamer. Gently steam until cooked through (5-8 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms. Heat the peanut oil in wok over high heat and add the mushrooms and chives. Stir-fry for a minute until lightly seared, then remove from the heat.

Strain and reheat the broth. Divide the fish between serving bowls and follow with the broth, mushrooms and a tablespoon of XO sauce.

Serves six.

XO sauce

XO sauce originated in Hong Kong in the 1970s and is referred to as the 'caviar of the Orient'. Its creators considered it the equivalent in quality of XO (extra old) brandy, the best brandy on the market, hence the name. The sauce is a spicy combination of dried seafood and pork, and while you can buy it in jars, I prefer to make my own. Use it with meat dishes, stir-fries, tofu and vegetable dishes.

1 piece pork belly weighing 150 g
200 g dried scallops, soaked overnight
200 ml peanut oil
15 red shallots, finely chopped
15 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50 g dried shrimp, soaked for 30 minutes
50 g shaved palm sugar
12 large dried red chillies, seeded and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ tablespoon fish sauce


Heat the oven to 200°C and roast the pork belly for around 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when tested with a skewer. Let the pork cool completely then cut away the skin and finely chop the meat (including any fat).

Place the soaked scallops in a heatproof dish and insert into a steamer. Steam until tender (around 2 hours). Remove the scallops from the steamer and set aside to cool. Reserve any juices that have pooled in the dish. Roughly chop the scallops.

Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan and fry the shallots, garlic, shrimp and palm sugar until the sugar starts to caramelise. Add the chillies, pork, scallops and their reserved steaming juices and simmer for 1 hour, topping up with water from time to time if the mixture begins to stick on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and add the pepper and fish sauce. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 2 cups.

Recipes from Lotus: Asian Flavours by Teage Ezard. Signed copies available in our online store.

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