The fish (traditionally catfish) in this recipe is turned into an almost unrecognizable fluffy, crunchy affair that is then flavoured with a sweet, hot and sour dressing. Pink salmon is suitable to use as a substitute for the white fish.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 11 oz (300 g) skinless firm white fish fillets
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- peanut oil, for deep-frying
- 3 tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes, each cut into 4 or 6 wedges
- 2 Asian shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced into thin wedges
- ½ oz ½ cup (15 g) coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 24 mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, roughly chopped
- 4 bird’s eye chillies, stems removed
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (jaggery)
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
How to Make It
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Pat dry the fish fillets, then toss them in the sea salt. Place on a rack in a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
- To make the dressing, use a pestle and mortar or a food processor to pound or blend the lemon grass, chillies and garlic to a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and turmeric. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Transfer the cooled fish to a food processor and chop until it resembles large breadcrumbs.
- Half fill a wok with oil and heat over high heat. Drop a small piece of fish into the oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Drop a large handful of the chopped fish into the hot oil. The fish will puff up and turn crisp. Cook for 30 seconds and carefully stir a little. Cook for another 30 seconds, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat to cook all the fish.
- Put the tomatoes, shallots, red onion, coriander leaves, mint leaves and peanuts in a bowl with about half of the dressing. Transfer the salad to a serving plate. Break the fish into smaller pieces if you wish and place on the salad. To ensure that the fish stays crisp, pour the remaining dressing over the salad just before serving.