I’ve found myself on an eternal quest for hunting down the best ethnic eats that Toronto has to offer. I scour Yelp, and head to pockets of Toronto that I never even knew existed, all in the name of finding hidden secrets of tasty success! While on my quest, I find it rightfully just to share some of those secrets – as a sort of public favor.
The secret I’m going to share is said to be the best you can get and it’s boiled up in Old House’s kitchen. The Old House is an assuming Northern Chinese restaurant residing on the outskirts of Toronto in the food-haven of Scarborough. (Photo via Flicker)
The inside of this hideaway may not be easy on the eyes, but with the food that their dishing out, who cares! At first glance you’ll find a handful of tables, photos of their offerings adorning the walls, a TV playing a Chinese news station and then there is this sound of a fiery roar coming from the back of the house – a high cooking flame. As I sat there, I began to feel almost as if I were sitting in someone’s cozy and warm kitchen for a bite to eat.
I came for one thing and it was, Shui zhu otherwise known as, “Water Boiled Fish,” a Sichuan specialty that’s brimming with scorching chili peppers and tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns, but don’t run away yet! Shui zhu appears more daring than it lets on and for those brave enough to dip their chopstick into the bubbling bowl of chilies to fish out a delicate piece of buttery soft fish (or beef or pork) will be rewarded. You see, beneath all that spice lies a decadent bite that exudes the perfect amount of spice and tingling hot.
I urge you to go find the Old House, order up a bowl of shui zhu and know that you’re getting the most authentic that this city has to offer.
How It’s Prepared
-Shui zhu literally means, “water-cooked meat/fish slices”
– The dish begins by scorching a handful of small red chili peppers and heaping spoonfuls of Sichuan peppercorns in a wok until nose-tinglingly fragrant
-Next, wok some Napa cabbage, stems and place them in a large serving bowl.
-Then comes the shui zhu part- Boil some stock with a copious amount of doubanjiang (a spicy, salty paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and various spices) and poach the fish or meat just enough to remove the rawness (20-30 sec) Add all to the serving bowl with the Napa cabbage
-Add the chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns
– Bring a generous (…like a 1/2 cup or more!) amount of vegetable oil to nearly smoking point then douse it over the awaiting bowl and watch it come to a sizzle, toasting it to impart that Sichuan scorched chili taste.
How To Eat
Simply dip your chopsticks in and grab hold of a perfectly cooked piece of buttery soft fish (or beef or pork) that will literally melt in your mouth.
Also Good To Eat
Lamb Kebabs: Grilled to perfection with cumin
Stir Fried Pancake with Cabbage: This was delish! The stir fried pancake took on a texture similar to noodles.
Where To Find