There’s only one restaurant that Mr. ABC Chef (Tim) likes in Chinatown..it’s a Cantonese BBQ restaurant named M Kee. This place is near and dear to the hearts of many of our friends. You know it’s a legit because you would see the older folks from the Cantonese congregation go there- a very good sign.
One of our Cantonese friends, Amanda, whose father is a chef, had this dish that we had never seen before. It had fish, pork, string beans, celery, dried black beans, and didn’t look like anything we had seen before! We asked for the name and ordered it with rice.
It was…DELICIOUS! Generous chunks of fish, crunchy Chinese celery, seared string beans, morsels of ground pork, and seasoned well with dried black beans and fermented olives. The combination of all the flavors together was quite magical, frankly 🙂
Ever since then, it’s become our favorite when we are there, and we recommend it to anyone who asks. There was a period where we went to M Kee so much that we got to know the waitresses and they would instinctively jot down my order as “ga herng”.
Needless to say, others have caught the ga herng bug and share a common love for it.
Amy, Nafis, and our other CCCNC friends- this recipe was made for you and all other fellow lovers of ga herng! I did my best to re-create a version that brings your tastebuds back to M Kee without tasting as heavy. For more a restaurant-y style rendition, add more sugar and soy sauce, making sure to heed my warning about soy sauce in the notes section.
*Apologies to all Cantonese people out there- I have no idea how to “spell” this dish properly in PinYin. Sorry if it is majorly butchered!
Special ingredients for this dish include:
Ga Herng Ban Kao Fan*
2-3 Tbsp+ oil
16 oz firm fish filets, like basa/swai/grouper, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
5 oz ground pork
2 scallion stalks, chopped
6 oz string beans, trimmed and chopped into bits
2×1/2 inch slices of ginger, cut lengthwise into strips
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp dried black beans
1 Tbsp fermented olives
2 tsp Shaoxing or rice wine
3/4 tsp sugar
4 oz Chinese celery, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
1) Heat a wok or saute pan until it’s very hot, then add 2 Tbsp oil. Still on high heat, add the fish and cook until they are opaque and done. Take them out of the pan and transfer to a plate/bowl.
2) Add 1 Tbsp more of oil, then add the pork and sautee until it’s cooked. Drizzle the wine atop the pork and stir to distribute it well. When the wine has mostly evaporated, add the scallions, ginger, black beans, fermented olives, and sugar. Then, add the string beans and cook, stirring often, until the string beans are tender or to your liking of cooked-ness.
3) Add the soy sauce if you like, then Chinese celery and the reserved fish. Be gentle at this point- you don’t want fish crumbs. Cook until the fish is reheated.
-M Kee often will use a bit more sugar and soy sauce (~double the amounts), seeing that it’s a restaurant, but the amounts given here reflect the amounts I thought appropriate for home use and more healthful eating. See the important note below about soy sauce…
-If you can’t find Chinese celery, you can use regular celery, but the taste will be different. Even M Kee has used regular celery before (I’ve had it!), so don’t worry tooo much.
-I used basa for the fish-
I don’t know what fish M Kee uses that makes for such a firm fish my chef friend Davis says that it is grouper! Don’t use oily firm fish like sea bass…save that for a splurge dish 😉 Please, no tilapia..
-If you are stickler for appearances, the ginger at M Kee is cut in thin, tiny rhomboidal pieces. I couldn’t be bothered, but if it floats your boat…
-If your stove is weak like mine, you will definitely want to consider cooking your fish in multiple batches. The key is to cook them at as high heat as possible, in order to not steam them, but actually sear/pan fry them. If necessary, add more oil in between batches.
-High heat. All the time. (Unless it starts to get smokey, in which case, go easy! This also means your stove is a boss!)
-A key component of the dish is the high heat at which the ingredients are cooked. That being said, there is no time for dilly-dallying. Please have your mise en place for the best results!
-If you have a strong stove (meaning, it reheats very quickly after you add uncooked food to it), I would opt for adding soy sauce. If not, I would opt for not adding it, as it will make the dish soggy and the soy sauce will form a pool at the bottom 🙁 The other option is to add the soy sauce in with the string beans and pork in step 2 to allow for more evaporation time, but this will probably result in dark brown string beans, which is not what M Kee’s dish looks like. I’m 99% sure M Kee uses soy sauce in this dish (in varying amounts, depending on the chef), but they have amazing woks that evaporate that will cook off lots of moisture. Feel free to experiment! I have made it with soy sauce (with the liquidyness) and without (as pictured), and enjoyed both versions.