Crispy Whole Thai Fried Fish with Ginger Tamarind Sauce and Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf

Total Time:
1 hr
Prep:
35 min
Inactive:
5 min
Cook:
20 min

Yield:
2 to 4 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for deep frying
  • 8 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek (hot Asian chili sauce)
  • One 2-pound whole snapper, cleaned and scaled
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 fresno chilies, finely sliced, for garnish
  • 2 scallions, cut on the bias, for garnish
  • Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf, recipe follows
  • Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf:
  • 2 1/2 cups Thai jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions
  • Special equipment: A large Dutch oven or deep wok, deep-fry thermometer and two 12-inch bamboo skewers

  • Prepare the ginger tamarind sauce: In large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup of the canola oil and allow to heat. Add the garlic, shallots and fresh ginger and saute until fragrant and the shallots are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, sambal and 1/2 cup water. Stir well and cook until the mixture is slightly reduced and has a maple syrup-like consistency, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.

  • Preheat 4 to 5 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees F in a large Dutch oven or deep wok. You need enough oil so the whole fish can be submerged.

  • Prepare the fish: Make 3 diagonal slices into the flesh of one side of the snapper, cutting all the way to the bone and spacing the slices 2 inches apart. Repeat with the other side of the fish.

  • Combine the cornstarch, rice flour, granulated garlic, ground ginger, salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Lightly dredge the fish all over with the seasoned flour, including inside the cuts. Shake off any excess flour, then form the fish into an "S" curve by threading two 12-inch bamboo skewers through the tail and body so it holds its wavy shape.

  • Carefully place the fish into the hot oil so it is almost completely submerged. Fry the fish until deep golden and very crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. As it cooks, use a large metal spoon or ladle to carefully pour hot oil over any exposed part of the fish to ensure it cooks evenly. Carefully remove the fish from the oil and place on a wire rack to drain briefly. Season immediately with salt and lime juice. Carefully remove the skewers from the fish, and place it upright on a platter of Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf. Pour the ginger tamarind sauce over the top. Garnish with the chilies and scallions.

Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf:
  • Rinse the rice by running it under cold water 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and ensures the rice comes out light and fluffy.

  • Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chili flakes and rice and stir well to coat the kernels evenly with oil. Add the coconut milk, salt, sugar and 1 cup water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook until all the liquid has absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep covered and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes to steam. Before serving, add the cilantro and fluff with a fork. Yield: 4 to 6 servings


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