Crispy Red Snapper "Chinese Style"
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup plum wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons crushed and minced lemongrass
- 1 cup water
- For the vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons matchstick-thin slices fresh ginger
- 2 Chinese sausages, 1 to 2 ounces each, sliced into thin rounds (available from Chinese markets; dry chorizo can be substituted)
- 10 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
- 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 2 scallions, white part only, sliced into thin rings
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 leek, white and light green parts, well washed and julienned
- 1 slice Thai bird chile (available in Chinese markets; other chili pepper can be substituted)
- Vegetable oil, for frying, at least 1 quart
- 1 whole red snapper, 4 pounds, scaled and gutted (or substitute two (2-pound) snappers and shorten the cooking time)
- 1/2 cup instant flour (recommended: Wondra)
- Fresh pea shoots, for garnish
Make the sauce: Put the soy sauce, fish sauce, plum wine, sugar, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, lemongrass, and water in a bowl and stir together; set aside.
While you make the vegetables, pour enough oil to submerge the snapper into a wide, deep, heavy-bottomed pot. You will need at least a quart, depending on the width of the pot and the thickness of the fish. Heat the pot over medium-high heat to 370 degrees F.
Make the vegetables: Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced ginger and sausage and cook until the sausage begins to give off its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off their liquid, adding more oil if necessary. Add the tomatoes, scallions, carrot, leek, and chile, and cook until just soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and keep the vegetables warm.
Fry the fish: Score the snapper 4 times from top to belly, starting about 3 inches behind the head and making the last slash about 2 inches from the tail; take care not to cut into the flesh. When the oil is almost hot enough, dredge the snapper in the flour, shaking off any excess. Skewer the fish from head to tail with a metal skewer, curving the fish as needed. Slowly carefully add the fish to the pot and fry until cooked through and moist at the bone on the head end, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve: Spread some sauce onto a fish platter and place the fish on top; spoon the vegetables over the fish. Present at the table, cutting individual portions there, and garnishing with pea sprouts. Serve the extra sauce on the side.