Baked king mackerel with red chili sauce
Recipe for baked fish with hot sauce from Southern Thailand
This dish originates from the south of Thailand and the strong taste of the mackerel harmonizes perfectly with the spicy chilli sauce. You can store a surplus of the hot suace in a jar in the fridge, because it also tastes very good to chicken, egg or seafood.
Ingredients (for 4 persons)
For the chilli sauce:
8 fresh chillies
5 cloves of garlic
1 stalk lemongrass (only use the bottom 5 cm of the stalk)
10 dried chilis or 3 tsp chilli powder
3 cm-piece fresh turmeric or 2 tsp turmeric powder
3 cm-piece fresh Galangal or 1.5 cm-piece fresh ginger
5 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp of tamarind paste or 4 tbsp of tamarind juice
3 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
For the baked fish:
500 g of firm fleshy fish (mackerel, tilapia or red snapper are recommended)
2 tbsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
Cooking oil (enough to cover one side of the fish )
Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 5 minutes (remove the stalks). Peel and roughly chop the shallots. Slit the chillies, scrape off the seeds and chop finely. Peel and crush the garlic. Thinly slice the lemongrass. Peel the turmeric and galangal then chop as well.
Using a mortal and pestle, blender or food processor, grind the first seven ingredients to form a paste. If the mixture is too dry and grinding is difficult, add a tablespoonful of water.
Heat the sesame oil in a wok or small frying pan to low heat, sauté the paste until fragrant (this should take about 15 minutes.). Keep the heat low throughout the process and stir the paste constantly so that it does not stick to the wok/pan.
Add the tamarind paste or juice, palm sugar and fish sauce. Let the paste cook while stirring occasionally. It is ready when the solids separate from the oil. Use immediately or cool to freeze for future use.
Rinse the fish well, and if necessary, remove the scales, guts, and gills. Score the flesh by making two to three slashes on both sides, the depth of the slashes midway between the skin and the flesh.
Mix salt and turmeric powder. Rub the mixture all over the fish including the cavity. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for half an hour.
About ten minutes before cooking, take the fish out of the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature.
Heat the oil in a wok/pan until it is very hot. Keep the flame on high heat. Very hot oil helps keep the skin and flesh together and prevents the skin from sticking to the wok/pan.
Carefully place the fish in the hot oil (attention: moisture from the fish may cause the oil to bubble and splatter. A pair of long tongs / spatula will help you keep a safe distance.) After about half a minute, turn the heat down to medium.
Turn the fish over after about two minutes. Fry until both sides of the fish are golden brown.
Place some kitchen towels on a plate. Put the fish on top of the kitchen towel to drain away excess oil.
Transfer the fish to a serving plate and smother with chili sauce. Serve immediately with steamed rice.
Image source: Fotolia - # 78618110 © Nunnicha Supagrit