Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stir-fry cooks come from all woks of life



In buying recipe books for me, some of my friends associate me with Western cuisine. I suppose I project that image because I tend to use the oven more than the open-fire stove. I have 2 kitchens at home, a "dry" kitchen where the convection oven, the steam oven and an electric mixer reside. The "wet" kitchen is my mom's world - heavy duty Chinese stir fries using a pressure cooker that has blessed us through many many Chinese New Years.

To balance my culinary exposures, I decided I would try this dish that I learned this week at-Sunrice from the chef from China - stir-fried fish in black pepper sauce. The first picture is before I pour the sauce all over and garnish with spring onions. She did not give us a recipe. We had to learn everything by visual and memory. Impressions and sharp observations count.  

I cut my filleted catfish that I had bought from Ben's Food in chunks as you can see in the picture. Marinate with salt, white pepper, ginger juice (I blend mine), plain flour and corn flour (portion according to taste and texture). Heat up a Chinese wok, use canola or corn oil in high heat. When you see small bubbles, gently place the fish in the oil. So in fact, this is more deep fry than stir fry. Leave it alone for a minute. If you try to move it, the fish will tear. I had to do this part with my mom by my side since I am virgin to deep frying. Have never liked deep fried food and always fearful of hot splattering oil. Gently prod the fish and when it's ready, it will move without tearing. Fry till golden brown, just a minute or so on each side. Set aside.

Now, prepare the sauce. Using a sauce pan, mix freshly ground black pepper (as much as you can take its spiceyness), light soya sauce (for taste), dark soy sauce (for colour), hua tiao jiu (Chinese rice wine for gourmet cooking), sesame oil (the chef didn't use this but I used lots of it as my children love it. That's why the sauce in the first picture looks oily), salt (I left this out as I think it's salty enough) and oyster sauce which I also left out as I think there's MSG in them. I also threw in the minced ginger that I had earlier blended (I love ginger and I don't like to waste).

Add some dried chilli to the sauce. Mix some corn flour to get the consistency you want. Then throw in a whole bunch of spring onions cut to about 5cm (julienne). Drizzle hot sauce over the fish, sprinkle some chopped spring onions as top garnish and serve. $20 at Crystal Jade Chinese restaurant, anyone?

Verdict: Children said, "Good!", but the husband is out in Penang enjoying some street food. My own verdict: it's not a dish that makes my day but I'm glad to conquer the fear of hot oil, and I like the bonding with my mom through cooking. 

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