Cumin and chilli barbecued perch

Cumin and chilli barbecued perch

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

We asked to be taken to a ‘wild’ part of the Great Wall, far from the crazy crowds and cable-car frenzy. We were guests of a posh hotel and they’d packed a special lunch for us to take. The driver was horrified when we opted instead to eat river trout with locals at a nearby restaurant in the middle of nowhere, right by a stream. The fish was slathered in spices and cooked simply, over coals, and was completely divine.


Quantity Ingredient
4 x 400g whole, small fish, such as silver perch or trevally
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
vegetable oil, for cooking
1 handful coriander sprigs, to serve


  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a few crisscrosses through the skin on each side of the fish, taking care not to cut through to the bone.
  2. Combine the black and Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds and chilli flakes in an electric spice grinder and grind until reasonably fine. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chilli powder and sea salt.
  3. Preheat a barbecue to high. Liberally brush the fish all over with the oil, then sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides. Place the fish inside a grill fish cage and cook, skin side down, for 5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Turn the fish over and cook for another 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Place the fish on a platter, garnish with the coriander and serve.
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