Salt & Pepper Crispy Skin Whole Bream with Tangy Sweet Chilli Sauce
Thai-inspired, Jo Starling original.
Sumptuous, moist fish with crispy skin and crunchy fins.
1 hour, 15 minutes
- Cleaned and thoroughly scaled whole bream (or other pan-sized fish)
- 1 cup cornflour
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 heaped teaspoons cooking salt
- 2 cups rice bran oil
- 1 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sweet Chilli Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1 heaped teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1 heaped teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 heaped teaspoon sugar (brown or palm-flavoured work best)
- generous splash of sesame oil
- fresh coriander
- chopped chilli to taste
- SERVING SUGGESTION
- serve atop a bed of fresh salad of julienne carrot, sliced Chinese cabbage, shoestring cucumber, mung bean shoots. No dressing required, as the juices from the fish and sauce will blend.
- Carefully check the skin on your fish (including the cheeks) for ANY residual scales. Pay attention to under-fin areas, top of back/tail and the edges of incisions. This recipe makes such delicious skin that it's worth taking the time to ensure all skin is scale-free.
- Pat fish dry with paper towel, paying attention to the fins. Pinch these between the folded towel and pull along the fin structure to dry thoroughly.
- In a heated dry pan, toast peppercorns (swirling pan occasionally) to release the aromas. When you can smell a deep, warm, peppery smell, tip the corns into a mortar with your cooking salt.
- Grind salt and peppercorns to a fine powder.
- Combine ground seasoning with cornflour in a flat dish that’s big enough to fit your fish.
- Rub the seasoned flour into all skin areas and inside the cavity. Again, pay attention to coating both sides of all fins.
- Set fish aside to rest and dry further.
- Prepare your serving plate for later.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a pan and stir while bringing to simmer.
- Add a generous splash of sesame oil.
- Once all sugar is dissolved, turn off heat.
- Heat rice bran oil in a wok. Oil is ready for the fish when a pinch of seasoned flour immediately bubbles when dropped in.
- When the oil is hot enough, slide your fish in, head first.
- Actively spoon hot oil over your fish as it cooks, remembering to include the cheeks and focusing on those fins! This is where they crisp up... so pour, pour, POUR!
- Be certain to pour oil into the gut cavity as well.
- Using two spatulas, turn fish over after about 5 minutes.
- Continue spooning hot oil over the fish, including cheeks and particularly the fins.
- Open the gut cavity and ensure oil is poured in here as well.
- When the flesh inside the gut cavity looks almost cooked, remove your fish and arrange on serving plate (the fish will continue to cook for a while after removed from the heat.)
- Place sauce back on heat and add a scoop of the rice bran oil from the wok that cooked the fish.
- Once the sauce comes back to simmer and reaches the desired thickness, pour over the top of your plated fish.
- Garnish with torn up fresh coriander and sliced chilli to taste.
- How good does this look?!
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