© Copyright 1995-2020, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: Jun
Servings: 4 to 6
Even people who don't normally like fish, this is a real treat. Any firm-fleshed fish that will fit in the wok or skillet without hanging over the edges will do.
1 ounce wet tamarind, or 2 tablespoon concentrate
¼ cup warm water
2 ounces (12 to 14) serrano chiles, or the fire of your choice
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons nam pla, or less to taste
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup water, or less
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 cleaned whole fish, including head and tail, 2 or 3 pounds after cleaning
¼ cup mint leaves, loosly packed
¼ cup carrot shreds, finely shredded long strips
¼ cup cabbage, finely shredded
vegetable oil for deep-frying
If using wet tamarind, soak wet tamarind in warm water until soft, about 15 minutes. Put the mixture in a sieve and press out all the pulp and liquid you can. Discard seeds and whatever won't go through the sieve. Scrape all the pulp from the outside of the sieve and add to solution. Set aside.
Remove the stems, but not the seeds from the chiles and chop finely. Pound or grind the chiles, onion and garlic to a coarse paste, adding oil if blending.
Heat a saucepan or skillet and add ¼ cup oil if you did not use a blender. Add the chile paste and stir-fry until lightly golden. Add the fish sauce, sugar, water to the consistancy you want and tamarind solution—if you used tamarind concentrate, you may have to add additional water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add the mint leaves and keep warm while you cook the fish.
Make three diagonal slashes on each side of the fish, cutting about ½ way to the bone. Put 1½ inches oil in a wok and heat it to 375°F. Dry the fish thoroughly and slide it into the oil gently to avoid splattering. Fry until crisp on outside and the flesh along the cuts is lightly golden, turning once, being careful not to break it, about 5 minutes, longer for thicker fish. Do not undercook it, skin and exposed flesh should be light and crispy. Remove carefully, drain thoroughly on paper towels and place on serving platter.
Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with mint leaves and shredded carrot and cabbage. Serve at once with rice. The fish may get soggy after 15 minutes or so.