This is my tenth blogged recipe! Great. Now, I have another nine hundred and ninety more to go.
After I started my own blogspot with my first recipe, I proudly told one of my daughters. She almost screamed and reacted with an alarmed look. For a moment, I thought she was displeased that her father had joined her in the world of blogging. Then we realised this: she heard me say that I have a bald-spot.
We had a good laugh.I was thinking of stardom while she had visions of me in 'baldom.'
So to remove all doubts, you may have noticed by now, ahem, that I have my own url (applause...). I have also done a design makeover. So, in looks and name, the fact that this is still actually a blogspot site is being covered-up. Not unlike the cover-ups we need to do as we age and become more follicle-challenged.
Ok, let's get down to food.
Chili fish, or sometimes called Sambal Fish is yet another dish with a generic WYSIWYG name. It is fish stuffed with fried chili paste and then fried till charred and golden.
Whenever my mum laid this dish on the table, we dropped whatever we were holding - literally. We were always reduced to our bare hands. All inhibitions were cast away as we tore the fish apart the "finger lickin' good" way; accompanied by white rice. It is a very appetizing dish and ranks very highly on our wish-list whenever my Mum visits us. Actually, this is one of her favourite dishes. She would eat - and lick - her fish cleaner than all of us. The leftover bones looked as if a cat had gone through the fish.
Traditionally, this Malay dish is made with Cencaru fish or Hard Tail Scad. It is only available in some wet markets but it is regularly sold in Sheng Shiong. The skin is hard and the middle scale should be torn out. It is great for this method of cooking (also good for assam curry). The flesh is firm and the neck portion is crispy when fried. This dish can also be made with other members of the Mackerel family like Kembung and Selar.
As the chilli is stuffed in the fish, the flavour goes both ways. This 'pairing' makes the dish special. The chili stuffing is important and key to this dish. As you cook this beforehand, you can adjust the taste according to your liking.
When my brother from Ipoh visited us recently, he cooked this dish. He carries with him a few recipes which my Mum has taught him. (His Assam Laksa is incredible and I will blog that one day). We took pictures of the step by step preparation and cooking process. Most are turned off by the work they imagine is involved in stuffing the fish. It is actually very easy to do. We used both Selar and Kembung fish.
Auntie Ruby's Chilli Fish Recipe
|Chopped Kaffir lime leaves|
For 10 fishes (Cencaru, Kembung or Selar)
5 stalks lemon grase
2 inch tumeric
15 fresh chillies
10 chili padis
A thumb size of Belachan
Sugar & salt
Kaffir Lime leaves
half a small bowl of oil l
|Chili, lemon grass and tumeric |
(shallots not in pic)
Preparing the Chili paste
- Blend the chopped lemon grass, shallots, tumeric and chili.
- Toast the belachan. (Don't use the powder form which is not as fragrant as those in paste form)
Frying the Chili paste
- Add oil and heat it up in medium flame.
- Add blended ingredients, salt and sugar. Taste the paste and be careful that you do not make it too salty.
- Add the finely diced kaffir lime leaves.
- Fry till fragrant and take the paste out of the wok.
Preparing the fish
|A slit on each side|
|Creating the slits|
- Ask the fish monger to remove the gullet of the fish. If he is kind, he will also remove all that stuff from the stomach. If not, you have to do it yourself. Rinse and clean the fish thoroughly.
- Slit the fish length wise on each side (see photo). Remember that you are not filleting the fish but making 'pockets.'
- Sprinkle some white pepper, salt and add some lime to the fish.
Neck view - stuff the chili here first
- After the paste has cooled, stuff the paste in. Start with the top of the neck and then from the side.
Frying the stuffed fish:
- Add oil for deep frying. The oil's level should be mid-way up the fish. Heat up the oil first before you put the fish in (prevents the fish sticking to the pan or wok).
Stuffing the Chili
Ready for frying
- Fry till it is cooked. About 8-10 minutes on each side. You should see charred bits on the side where the stuffed chili is.
The sambal chili can also be used to cook with lady fingers, squid etc. Keep the extra for future use.
|Enjoy with your hands...here is another simple reason why you |
do that - to FEEL the BONES and avoid an expensive visit to ENT