Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fried Fish Fillet (with spicy fish sauce and lettuce wraps)

This, too, comes from Deh-Ta Hsiung’s The Book of Vietnamese Cooking. Again, this simple dish isn’t something I remember coming across in Vietnam, but the ingredients and flavors are all Vietnamese to me. This really is about as simple as it gets, and the spicy sauce used here is shatteringly good.

1 lb. halibut fillet (or other firm white fish) cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Lettuce leaves
*Spicy Fish Sauce

*Ingredients for Spicy Fish Sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 small red chilies, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce

Preparation of Spicy Fish Sauce: Finely mince garlic and chilies. Add sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and 3 tablespoons of water. Blend well.

Cooking Directions
1. In a dish, season the fish with salt and pepper and let stand for about half an hour.

2. In a small bowl, blend the egg with the flour and water paste; this will be your batter.

3. Heat oil in a wok or deep-fat fryer to 350F. Coat the fish pieces with batter and deep-fry them, in batches, 4-5 minutes until golden. (Make sure fish is cooked through.) Remove and drain.

4. Place fish pieces on a dish with chopped cilantro and lettuce leaves. Wrap fish pieces and cilantro in lettuce leaves and dip in spicy fish sauce.

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