Crispy Fried Flounder
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Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Chinese-Style Crispy Fried Flounder

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Whole fish is a traditional part of Lunar New Year dinner tables, symbolizing abundance of food, wealth and luck for the new year. But this recipe can also be part of any special-occasion meal with its stunning presentation: a crispy whole fish topped with a tangle of greens—a mix of sliced scallions and fresh cilantro—bloomed upon serving with a scoop of the hot fry oil. Make sure to serve this with plenty of rice for soaking up the delicious sauce. The mixture of rice flour and cornstarch helps achieve a crispy, crackling crunch.



Special equipment:
a deep-frying thermometer
  1. Rinse the fish under cold water to remove any remaining scales and make sure the belly cavity is clean. Pat dry with paper towels on a plate. Rub 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Shaoxing over the skin of the fish, then sprinkle evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the white pepper. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Heat 1 inch (about 4 cups) vegetable oil in a large wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
  3. Whisk together the rice flour, cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 9-by-13 baking pan or large plate until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons Shaoxing, then put it back on the heat and cook until reduced slightly, about 10 seconds. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken bouillon powder, sugar and 2 tablespoons water and simmer until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Set aside to keep warm.
  5. Dredge the fish in the rice flour mixture, making sure to coat the fins, tail and head; shake off any excess. Carefully lower it into the hot oil headfirst, making sure most of the head, all of the body and most of the tail are submerged in the oil. Gently ladle the hot oil over the parts of the head and tail that are above the surface of the oil. Fry, occasionally gently lifting the fish away from the bottom of the wok to prevent scorching, until the fish is golden brown and crispy all over, about 7 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels. Transfer the fish to the prepared baking sheet to drain off excess oil.
  7. Transfer to a serving platter and spoon the sauce around it. Top with the cilantro and scallions, then carefully scoop and pour 1/4 cup of the hot frying oil over the scallion mixture. Serve immediately with rice on the side.
  8. To debone, use 2 spoons to break the spine from the head side and tail side of the flounder. Run the spoon across the middle and flip open one side of the fillet. Repeat on the other side of the fillet to expose its spine. Lift the spine using the tip of the spoon by starting on the head side and running towards the tail. The meat should separate from the bone very easily.

Cook’s Note

When buying the flounder, look for one that will fit inside your wok so it will cook evenly.