Peel back the lid on a tin of dou chi ling yu, Chinese dace (freshwater carp), and it’s enough to put a can of sardines to shame. I live for these fried little fish, which come swimming, along with fermented black beans, in salty, seasoned oil. The dace, which you eat whole, tiny tender bones and all, have a deep fishy flavor and a robust chew, and the black beans are pungent, briny treasures. When I open a can to eat with white rice, I inhale every last morsel, right down to the oil at the bottom, which I drizzle over top. One tin transforms a bowl of plain grains into the most satisfying and flavorsome of meals.
Lillian Chou is a writer based in Beijing.