[serves 2]

1 whole fish, weighing about 500 gms -cleaned, scaled, gutted & gilled plain flour to coat fish
4 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

Tamarind Chilli Sauce:
4 tablespoons chopped garlic
4 red chillies, finely chopped, deseeded & julienned
2 golden or red shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or pickled galangal
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander root or stem
10 white peppercorns
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
½ cup tamarind water
coriander or Thai sweet basil to garnish

To make sauce: in mortar, pound white peppercorns, add garlic, shallots, galangal, coriander root – pound to coarse paste.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok and fry the paste and chillies until fragrant – about 2 minutes. Add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind water.
  • The sauce should be sweet, tangy and salty and should be quite thick. If too dry, moisten with a few tablespoons water.
  • Simmer this sauce for a few minutes for the flavours to come together. Remove sauce from wok, keep warm.

To cook fish:
Heat remaining oil in wok. Make sure oil is sizzling hot by testing with a piece of garlic. Slide fish gently into oil, head first. Using wok flipper, spoon oil over the top of the fish while cooking. This will take about 10 minutes. Carefully turn the fish over, fry on the second side for about 5 minutes. Carefully lift out, drain on paper towel.

Grapeseed Oil: with its pale yellow colour and delicate neutral flavour, grapeseed oil can be used as a substitute for olive oil

Peanut Oil: because of its high smoke point, peanut oil is especially prized for frying. Most American peanut oils are mild flavoured, whereas Chinese peanut oils have a distinctive peanut flavour.

Sesame Seed Oil: a common ingredient in oriental recipes, the rich nutty flavour is suitable or use in salad dressings, meat and vegetable dishes. Use sparingly.

Soybean Oil: extracted from soy beans, this light yellowish oil has always been popular as a cooking oil in Chinese cuisine as it is inexpensive, healthy and has a high
smoke point.

Sunflower Oil: this pale yellow, delicately flavoured oil is very high in polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Though it has a relatively low smoke point, sunflower oil is used in cooking as well as for salad dressings.

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