During Western China's desert summers, freshwater fish from the Tarim River are barbecued, butterflied, and splayed across long, thin salt-cedar branches. The skewers are then stuck, stake-like, into the ground around a burning fire, which roasts them slowly and evenly. In this version, a hot oven or a traditional western grill will work similarly, roasting the cumin-, garlic-, and pepper-rubbed fish to a fragrant burnish. While carp and perch are more common in western China, bass and branzino are fine substitutes.
Recipe adapted from All Under Heaven.
Featured in: Eating on the Western Edge of China
- 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
- 2 red jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- One 1-lb. fish (such as carp, branzino, or bass), butterflied
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