Thursday, July 30, 2009
CRISPY FRIED FISH WITH SAMBAL AND A GREEN MANGO SALAD
I can think of no other way of preparing these tiny, fresh, slender, skinny, yellow tail scad fish (ikan selar kuning) than to deep fry them to a crisp so their bones become dry and brittle, so you could snap them, savour their sweetness, bite their paper thin crisp gills, their lips, their little tails and devour each whole leaving very little of their remains behind. Like a cat would. It's totally fulfilling and lip smacking satisfying.
Especially if you have hot, steaming white rice, and heady luscious condiments like sambal belacan and a sour spicy green mango salad right next to you. Quite the complete rustic meal. Nothing fancy. The whole meal set covers the 3 food groups. Fried, boiled and raw.
There are usually 2 sizes of this fish sold at the market but for deep frying to a crisp, the 4 1/2 or 5 inch ones are the ones to go for. And if you get the fishmonger to clean them for you preparing them for frying would be a breeze.
The secret or not so secret of frying fish to a crisp would of course be very hot oil, a nice crisp forming batter and patting down the fish with some paper towels before coating and frying them. And don't over crowd the pan or wok either or you'll bring the temperature of the oil down and your fish will not be as crisp as you would like them to be. The tumeric used in this batter is typical of Malay fried foods and it gives off a lovely earthy flavour.
We had a wonderful (ok.... unhealthy) dinner tonight and my daughter who complained recently about having missed most of the foods that I blg about was licking her fingers clean, smacking her lips and she went mmm...
Here's the recipe for the fried fish.............
For the amount of batter in this recipe you would be able to fry about...
8 - 9 small fish, gutted, cleaned and patted dry
3 tablespoons of cornflour
2 tablespoons of tumeric powder
1 tablespoon of salt
2-3 tablespoon of water
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Mix the above ingredients to a thick but slightly loose paste. Drop in the fish that has been patted with kitchen paper towel of excess moisture into the paste/batter. Use a spoon or spatula to mix and coat the fish into the batter.
Heat up a deep wok until hot then pour in enough oil for deep frying and when the oil is very hot drop the fish in a few at a time as long as you don't over crowd the wok. Fry until a golden brown and crisp. Continue with the next batch and drain them on paper towels to rid of excess oil. Serve hot.
Please note that this is not a batter where you dip the fish in and fry them. I t is more of a coating batter where the fish are put into the bowl and mixed aroudn until they are coated. So you will not be getting half a bowl full of liquid batter from this recipe.
I inch square piece of dried shrimp paste, roasted in a dry pan
4 large red chillies
a few bird chillies if you like
juice of 2 or 3 kalamansi limes (I didn't have these so I used the bigger limes, which are not as nice, in my opinion)
Pound the chillies quite finely using a little salt as an abrasive in a pestle and mortar (or mortar and pestle, whichever came first). Add the toasted shrimp paste and pound again until you get a nice fiery red and moist paste. Scoop the luscious paste into a small bowl and squeeze lime juice over. Mix with a spoon. It's ready to be served.
Green mango salad.......My MIL's version....
3 mediun sized green mangoes, peeled and shredded or grated coarsely
1 cm x 2cm piece of toasted shrimp paste
2 large red chillies
some bird chillies if you like
A handful of roasted and crushed peanuts (I didn't have this)
Put about a tablespoon of salt in the shredded mangoes and mix them well. keep aside for about 15 minutes to allow the juices from the mango to exude and to reduce the sourness. After 15 minutes use your hand to squeeze teh mango pulp as dry as you can. Then place the shredded mango into a colander and run some water through to rid it of excess salt.
Pound the chillies and shrimp paste in a pestle and mortar until quite fine but not too fine. Mix the paste with the rinsed shredded mangoes well until evenly distributed. Scatter some crushed peanuts over the top and it's ready to be served.
Serve the fried crispy fish with the sambal belacan and teh green mango salad. YUMMEE.