1 whole fish, such as red snapper or carp,
2-3 tbsp cornflour
oil for frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper
boiled rice, to serve
For the spice paste:
2 garlic cloves
2 lemon grass stems
1 inch fresh galangal, peeled
1 inch fresh root ginger
3/4 inch fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp ground
5 macadamia nuts or 10 almonds
For the sauce:
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1.5 cups water
2 lime leaves, torn
4 shallots, quartered
3 tomatoes, skinned and cut in wedges
3 spring onions, finely shredded
1 fresh red chili, seeded and shredded
Ask the fishmonger to gut and scale the
fish, leaving on the head and tail, or you may do this yourself. Wash
and dry the fish thoroughly and then sprinkle it inside and out with
salt. Set aside for 15 minutes, while preparing the other ingredients.
Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Use only
the lower white part of the lemon grass stems and slice thinly. Peel and
slice the fresh galangal, the fresh root ginger and fresh turmeric and
grind to a fine paste in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar.
Scrape the paste into a bowl. Stir in the
brown sugar, cider vinegar, seasoning to taste and the water. Add the
lime leaves. Dust the fish with the cornflour and fry on both sides in
hot oil for about 8-9 minutes or until almost cooked through. Drain the
fish on kitchen paper and transfer to a serving dish. Keep warm.
Pour off the most of the oil and then pour
in the spicy liquid and allow to come to the boil. Reduce the heat and
cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the shallots and tomatoes, followed a minute
later by the spring onions and chili. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pour the sauce over the fish. Serve at once, with plenty of rice.