Chinese Sauerkraut Fish Recipe: A Delicious and Easy-to-Follow Guide – Seaco Online
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Chinese Sauerkraut Fish Recipe: A Delicious and Easy-to-Follow Guide

If you're looking for a comforting and satisfying dish to warm you up on a chilly day, Chinese sauerkraut fish is a great option to try. This popular dish from Sichuan and Chongqing combines tender fish slices with pickled mustard greens, chili, and other seasonings to create a hot and sour broth that is both flavourful and comforting.

A large wok sizzles with red chili peppers, ginger, and garlic, as chunks of fish and tangy sauerkraut are added, creating a mouthwatering aroma

To make this dish, you'll need some essential ingredients like fish, pickled mustard greens, chili, garlic, and ginger. While traditionally made with carp, you can also use other types of seafood like tilapia, catfish, or even shrimp. The preparation techniques involve slicing the fish into thin pieces, marinating it with starch and seasonings, and then boiling it in a pot with the pickled mustard greens and other ingredients.

Once the fish is cooked, it is served in a bowl with the hot and sour broth, which can be paired with rice or noodles to make a complete meal. If you're new to this dish, you may have some questions about the ingredients or cooking methods. Don't worry, we've got you covered with some frequently asked questions and tips to help you make the perfect Chinese sauerkraut fish.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese sauerkraut fish is a comforting and satisfying dish that is perfect for chilly days.
  • The essential ingredients for this dish include fish, pickled mustard greens, chili, garlic, and ginger.
  • You can use different types of seafood like tilapia, catfish, or shrimp to make this dish.

History and Origin

A large wok sizzles with spicy broth, pickled vegetables, and tender fish, creating a mouthwatering aroma in a bustling Chinese kitchen

Cultural Significance

Chinese sauerkraut fish, also known as Suan Cai Yu, is a popular dish in Chongqing cuisine. It is a dish that is often shared with family and friends, making it a significant part of the local food culture. The dish is believed to have originated in Sichuan province, where the use of pickled vegetables in cooking is a common practice.

Sichuan pickles are the key ingredient in the dish, providing a tangy and sour flavour that complements the fish. The pickled vegetables are made by fermenting mustard greens with salt and other spices. This process gives the vegetables a distinct flavour that is unique to the region.

Regional Variations

While sauerkraut fish is a popular dish in Sichuan province, it has also become a favourite in other parts of China and around the world. The dish has undergone some regional variations, with some chefs adding their own unique twist to the recipe.

In some parts of China, the dish is made with different types of fish, including catfish and carp. Some chefs also use seafood such as shrimp or squid. This variation adds a different dimension to the dish, making it more versatile and appealing to a wider audience.


To make Chinese sauerkraut fish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500g fish fillets (carp or catfish)
  • 1 cup Sichuan pickles
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the fish fillets into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

  3. Add the Sichuan pickles, Sichuan peppercorns, red chilli flakes, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. Stir-fry for another minute.

  4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

  5. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens.

  6. Add the fish pieces to the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

  7. Serve hot with steamed rice.

For a seafood variation, you can use shrimp or squid instead of fish. Simply substitute the fish fillets with 500g of shrimp or squid and cook for 2-3 minutes until the seafood is cooked through.

Essential Ingredients

A pot of simmering sauerkraut fish with chili, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorns, surrounded by fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs

When it comes to making Chinese sauerkraut fish, there are a few essential ingredients that you will need to get right. In this section, we will take a closer look at each of these ingredients and what you need to know about them.

Choosing the Right Fish

The type of fish you use for your sauerkraut fish is crucial to the success of the dish. While some recipes call for specific types of fish, such as grass carp or carp, you can also use other types of fish fillets, such as tilapia. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try using seafood like shrimp or squid for a unique twist on the classic recipe.

Sauerkraut Selection

The sauerkraut you use should be fresh and of high quality. You can find sauerkraut in most Asian supermarkets, but be sure to read the label carefully to ensure that it is made with natural ingredients and free from any added preservatives. You can also make your own sauerkraut at home if you prefer.

Spices and Seasonings

The spices and seasonings you use will give your sauerkraut fish its distinctive flavour. Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, and garlic are all commonly used in this dish. You can also add pickled mustard greens for an extra tangy flavour. Be sure to use high-quality spices and seasonings to get the best results.

When it comes to oil, salt, and pepper, use them sparingly and adjust the seasoning to taste. Remember that sauerkraut is already quite salty, so you may not need to add any extra salt to the dish.

In summary, choosing the right fish, sauerkraut, and spices and seasonings are key to making a delicious Chinese sauerkraut fish. Be sure to use high-quality ingredients and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Preparation Techniques

Fresh fish marinating in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Cabbage and chili peppers being chopped. A pot of spicy, tangy broth simmering on the stove

To make a delicious Chinese sauerkraut fish, you need to follow a few preparation techniques. Here are the steps you need to take:

Cleaning and Slicing Fish

The first step in making sauerkraut fish is to clean and slice the fish. You can use any type of fish you like, but it is recommended to use freshwater fish like carp, tilapia, or catfish. If you're a seafood lover, you can also use prawns or squid.

To clean the fish, remove the scales, gut the fish, and remove the head and tail. Then, slice the fish into thin, even pieces, about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Make sure to slice the fish against the grain to ensure it is tender.

Pickling Process

The next step is to pickle the cabbage. You can use either fresh cabbage or Chinese pickled cabbage (suan cai). If you're using fresh cabbage, slice it thinly and sprinkle salt over it. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off the salt and squeeze out any excess water.

If you're using Chinese pickled cabbage, rinse it with water and squeeze out any excess water. Then, chop it into small pieces.

Marinating and Coating

The final step is to marinate and coat the fish. In a bowl, mix together starch, egg white, and cornstarch. Then, add the fish slices and coat them evenly with the mixture.

Heat up some oil in a wok or frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the fish slices and fry until they are golden brown. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, stir-fry the pickled cabbage until it is fragrant. Then, add some water and bring it to a boil. Add the fried fish slices to the pan and let them simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve the sauerkraut fish hot with steamed rice and your favourite vegetables.

By following these preparation techniques, you can make a delicious Chinese sauerkraut fish that is sure to impress your friends and family.

Cooking Method

A wok sizzles with sauerkraut, ginger, and chili, as chunks of fish simmer in a savory broth, releasing fragrant steam

Creating the Broth

To make a rich broth for your Chinese sauerkraut fish, you can use chicken stock or fish stock as a base. Alternatively, you can use boiling water and add in some aromatics such as ginger, garlic, and scallions to enhance the flavour.

Poaching the Fish

For the fish, you can use a variety of freshwater fish such as carp or catfish. Alternatively, you can also use seafood such as prawns or scallops for a twist on the classic recipe.

To poach the fish, you can either use hot oil or water boiled fish. If using hot oil, heat up the oil until it is hot but not smoking, then gently add in the fish and cook until it is just cooked through. If using water boiled fish, bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the fish. Cook until it is just cooked through.

Finishing Touches

To finish off your Chinese sauerkraut fish, add in the pickled mustard greens and any other vegetables or ingredients you desire. You can also add in a hot and sour broth for an extra kick of flavour. Serve hot and enjoy!

Serving and Pairing

A table set with a steaming pot of sauerkraut fish, surrounded by colorful plates of pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a bottle of Chinese rice wine


When it comes to serving Chinese sauerkraut fish, there are a variety of accompaniments that pair well with this dish. One of the most popular options is to serve the fish with steamed rice, which helps to soak up the delicious sauce and flavours of the dish. Alternatively, you can pair the sauerkraut fish with noodles, such as egg noodles or rice noodles, for a heartier meal.

For those who enjoy a bit of crunch with their meal, bean sprouts and scallions can be added to the dish for some added texture and flavour. These vegetables also provide some additional nutritional value to the meal.

If you're hosting a dinner party, consider serving some additional side dishes alongside the sauerkraut fish. Some popular options include stir-fried vegetables, such as bok choy or broccoli, or a cold cucumber salad. These dishes help to balance out the flavours of the sauerkraut fish and provide some additional variety to the meal.

Wine and Beverage Suggestions

When it comes to pairing beverages with Chinese sauerkraut fish, there are a few options to consider. For those who enjoy wine, a light and fruity red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, pairs well with the dish. Alternatively, a crisp white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, can also complement the flavours of the sauerkraut fish.

If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, consider serving green tea or jasmine tea alongside the meal. These teas help to cleanse the palate and provide some additional hydration.

For those who enjoy a bit of spice, a cold beer, such as a lager or pilsner, can also pair well with the sauerkraut fish. Just be sure to choose a beer that isn't too heavy or overpowering, as this can detract from the flavours of the dish.

If you want to incorporate seafood into the recipe, consider using shrimp or squid. These seafood options pair well with the flavours of the sauerkraut fish and can add some additional texture to the dish. Just be sure to cook the seafood thoroughly before adding it to the sauerkraut fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming hot pot of Chinese sauerkraut fish bubbles with spicy red broth, chunks of tender fish, and colorful vegetables, surrounded by a table set with chopsticks and small bowls

What's the best type of fish to use for a Suan Cai Yu dish?

The best type of fish to use for a Suan Cai Yu dish is a freshwater fish with firm flesh. Popular options include grass carp, carp, and silver carp. You can also use snakehead or other types of seafood, such as prawns or squid, as a substitute for fish.

How do you prepare the sauerkraut for a Chinese sauerkraut fish soup?

To prepare the sauerkraut for a Chinese sauerkraut fish soup, rinse the pickled mustard greens under cold running water to remove any excess salt. Squeeze out the excess water and chop the sauerkraut into small pieces. You can also add other ingredients to the soup, such as ginger, garlic, and chili peppers, for added flavour.

Can you suggest an easy method to make Chinese sauerkraut fish at home?

Yes, an easy method to make Chinese sauerkraut fish at home is to use a pre-packaged sauerkraut fish seasoning mix. Simply follow the instructions on the package and add your preferred type of fish or seafood. Alternatively, you can make the seasoning mix from scratch using ingredients such as soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and chili paste.

What are the health benefits of eating Suan Cai Yu?

Suan Cai Yu is a nutritious dish that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. The pickled mustard greens in the soup are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help boost your immune system and fight against diseases. Fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.

How does Chinese pickled mustard fish soup differ from the hot and sour fish soup?

Chinese pickled mustard fish soup, or Suan Cai Yu, is a spicy and sour soup that is made with pickled mustard greens and fish. Hot and sour fish soup, on the other hand, is a tangy and spicy soup that is made with vinegar, chili peppers, and other ingredients. While both soups are delicious, they have different flavours and ingredients.

What's the traditional way to serve Suan Cai Yu?

The traditional way to serve Suan Cai Yu is to ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve it with steamed rice. You can also garnish the soup with chopped cilantro and green onions for added flavour and colour.