Pan-fried Fish with Ginger Sauce

Along the warm waters of its sprawling coast, Thailand is blessed with innumerable rivers and streams. Fish and seafood, therefore, are prominent in both Thai haute cuisine and the daily diet of the people. It is said that in some fortunate neighbourhoods of Thailand, one may eat a fish or seafood meal every day of the year and never sample the same dish twice.

Thai cooks know full well that when it comes to fresh fish and seafood, ginger is one of the very best and most appropriate seasonings: lively, refreshing, and a complement to the subtle taste of any fish.

Here I use fresh trout because of its availability, ease of preparation and, of course, delicate taste and texture. This is a foundation course for any special luncheon or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 4 small trout, cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3–5 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons water

Garnish

  • fresh coriander sprigs

Method

Blot the trout dry inside and out with kitchen paper. Combine the flour with the salt and dust the trout on the outside thoroughly with this mixture.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat down to medium and pan-fry the trout. (You may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your wok or pan.) When the fish is brown and crispy underneath, turn it over and pan-fry the other side, adding more oil if necessary. When the fish is cooked, about 4 minutes, remove it to a warm platter.

Reheat the wok and remaining oil. When it is hot, add the garlic, ginger, spring onions and shallots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and stock, and bring to a simmer. Mix the cornflour with the water and thicken the sauce with this mixture. Serve the sauce straightaway with the trout and garnish with coriander.

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