Thursday, September 10, 2009
This is fried fish and sambal. Such a humble dish. If you know me, you'll know that this is the dish that still ties me to my mum's apron's strings. Before I return to Singapore for a visit, she'll ask me what I want to eat while I'm there (don't all mothers do that?). And so I give her a list, but I always plead with her, "Mak, when I arrive, can you have ikan selar kuning sambal tumis prepared, please?" Ikan selar kuning is a type of scad - a small fish with a yellow vertical stripe on the side. Oh, how it makes me happy when I catch sight of that plate of rice, vegetable and the small crispy fish which had been deep fried and generously coated with sauteed red chili paste. So you see, I may not know what is the last meal I want to have, but I am certain of what my first meal home should be, every time.
I have yet been able to find scad here. So I try to be adventurous when I go grocery shopping. On a recent trip, I saw that Whole Foods had trouts. I couldn't remember if I had ever tried trout, but it looks like a size that would fit into my wok (good criteria, no?), so I happily picked two. I knew I was going to fry the fish. Instead of using my mum's sambal recipe, I decided to make another version with the sambal oelek I had just made. You can use the store bought version too. The flesh is quite delicate so it should be cooked quickly. Verdict? We like trout and will definitely have it again. The flesh was flaky and sweet, and went well with the sambal. Plus, because the trout was butterflied, there was no bone in the fish which S especially liked.
Fried Trout with Sambal Oelek
2 trouts (or any fish), cleaned
2 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons turmeric
3 tablespoons sambal oelek (homemade or store-bought)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic, minced
1-inch cube ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup tamarind juice (from 1 tablespoon tamarind paste)
oil for frying
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok to medium heat. Put in the sliced shallots and saute until caramelized - about 4-5 minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger. Lower the heat slight so that the garlic doesn't burn. Saute for another minute.
2. Put in the sambal oelek and the sugar. Stir until the sugar melts and then add in the tamarind juice. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes. Remove the sambal and clean the wok.
3. For the fish - dry the fish as much as possible with paper towels. Rub them with the turmeric and then the rice flour. Heat oil to medium high - there should be about ½-inch oil in the wok - should be enough to cover the length of the fish. As soon as the oil is hot, put in the fish. The oil should be sizzling. You can fry one at a time if your wok is not big enough. Fry until brown and then turn over carefully - about 2-3 minutes on each side.
4. Remove the fish to a paper towel to drain a little of the oil. Then put them on a plate and spread the sambal on each fish.
Serve with rice and a vegetable side dish.