After tasting my dad's dou-ban yu before I left for Colorado, I was determined to recreate the dish on my own. At the Asian supermarket in Denver, I picked up a bottle of the spicy bean paste/hot bean sauce brand he had used (same as the one I used for my mapo tofu dish), and figured all I needed was to add chopped garlic, cilantro, scallions, and basil for the sauce.
But then there was the matter of the fish. I didn't know where I could buy a live carp, and how could I possibly eat an entire carp anyway? So I made the dish with frozen tilapia filets that I bought at Wal-Mart, not knowing how wretched they would taste. Overly fishy, and with unpleasant scales and bones still randomly stuck in them, which totally booby-trapped each bite. I know I have to make grocery compromises because of budget and availability now, but these filets were just not worth it.
The flavor of the sauce, however, was great. My mom advises that I add cooking wine and ginger next time to brighten the flavors and to reduce the fishiness, so I guess that's how I'll tackle the rest of the filets I have left. After that, though, there's no way I am buying them again.