Deep fried snapper with sticky tamarind sauce
Photo by Tam West
Learn not to be scared of bones, says Sachie Nomura, because nothing makes people go “wow” more then being presented with a whole fish. In Southeast Asian and Thai cuisine, it is very common to cook fish whole. This is because the flavour stays in the fish and the flesh won’t be overcooked. Deep-frying helps avoid overcooking because it is fast, locking in all the moisture and keeping the flesh soft. I prefer using a smaller fish so it can fit in my frying pan. The sweetness and sourness of the tamarind with this fish is amazing. Serve on a big plate, drizzle the yummy sauce all over and garnish with coriander. You can eat it traditionally by sharing it at the table, like most Asian dishes. I must always have this dish when I’m out and it’s on the menu.
|1||Snapper, 500g, scaled and cleaned|
|1 cup||Canola oil, for frying|
|1 clove||Garlic, chopped|
|1||Red chilli, chopped|
|½||Shallot, 20g, chopped|
|2 Tbsp||Palm sugar|
|1 Tbsp||White sugar|
|2 Tbsp||Tamarind paste|
|1 Tbsp||Fish sauce|
|1 bunch||Coriander, for garnish|
|1||Red chilli, chopped, for garnish, or more if wanted|
- Score 3 lines on both sides of the snapper and rub salt on both sides.
- Heat oil in a wok or frying pan (I use a 28cm frying pan). Once the oil is hot enough, slide the snapper in gently (be careful not to splash the oil on yourself). Cook for 5 minutes then gently flip over to cook the other side for another 5 minutes or until cooked through.
- Once the snapper is cooked, gently place it on kitchen paper to drain the oil.
- Place another frying pan over medium-high heatand add 2 Tbsp oil (I reuse the oil I used to cook the snapper). Add garlic, chilli and shallot and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add the sugars, tamarind paste, fish sauce and water and cook until sauce has thickened.
- Place the snapper on a serving plate and drizzle the sticky tamarind sauce on top. Garnish with coriander and chilli.
Tamarind is a key component in Thai cooking, providing that special sweet-sour flavour. It is readily available at Asian grocers and some supermarkets in block form, which you mix with hot water, mash to a paste and then strain to remove seeds. You can buy tamarind paste in a jar but pulp from the block has more flavour. Read more about tamarind in the glossary section here.