Tied Fish

Tethering is devised to maintain fishes alive and therefore clean, whilst out of water. It prolongs their demise for as long as viable. Though the exercise is illegal in Taiwan’s abattoirs, there is presently no enforcement of the regulation protecting the welfare of fishes at moist markets, and so tethering is common and seen in these areas. Local campaigners are calling for a quit to this inhumane and torturous practice.

Tied Fish
Tied Fish


2 tablespoons butter

1 to 2 carrots, finely diced

1 celery rib, finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

1 leek, whites finely chopped and rinsed

1 whole bass, red snapper or halibut (about 3 pounds/1.4 kg), cleaned

1/2 cup/125 ml white wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

20 small cooked shrimp (about 7 ounces/200 g), peeled and chopped 

Handful fresh thyme leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 


Special equipment:

 Special equipment: butcher’s twine

  1. Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and leek and cook until soft and starting to caramelize, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the fillets from either side of the fish by first cutting down the backbone and then working from head to tail. I always leave the tail attached to one of the fillets because I like the look of it. Discard the head and bones, or save them for making stock. All of this, of course, you can have done by the fishmonger.
  2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C with a baking sheet on the rack (the hot baking sheet will ensure that the skin stays crisp). 
  3. When the vegetables are ready, pour over the wine and continue cooking until it has evaporated completely and the vegetables are sticky, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, stir through the shrimp and thyme, and set aside. 
  4. Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan (or the washed-out saute pan) large enough to accommodate the fish fillets. When sizzling hot, sear the fillets skin-side down just long enough to make the skin crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove. 
  5. Take the baking sheet from the oven with oven-mitted hands. Drizzle on a little oil. Lay on the fillet with the tail, skin-side down. Top with the stuffing. Lay on the second fillet, skin-side up. Slide three pieces of string underneath at intervals and tie around the fish. Slip the baking sheet back into the oven and bake until the fish is flaky and tender no more than 10 minutes. 
  6. Remove from the oven, slide the fish onto a serving platter, strings and all, and serve.
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