Ginger-Garlic Fish FryAdd a Comment / August 23, 2014
After a busy week of writing recipes and flipping dosas, there’s nothing better than a Sunday spent lazing by the river. As I go for a dip, I leave my husband in deep meditation, fishing pole in hand. A couple of fish in the bag and we’re ready for Sunday fish fry; all that’s needed is to put up a pot of dal, the traditional South Indian accompaniment.
We’re attached to the name “fish fry,” as that’s what Nash grew up calling it, but this dish involves no real frying, just a light cook in healthy coconut oil to crisp the skin and cook the spices into the fish. Once your fish is gutted and scaled, the recipe takes just minutes to put together (even easier if you buy cleaned whole fish from the fish counter), removing the intimidation factor from the whole fish experience. To get at every bit of the meat, forgo knife and fork and dig in with your hands. And make sure to scoop out and enjoy the succulent cheek meat—it’s the tastiest part of the fish.
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 (8-ounce/225 g) whole fish, such as bass or snapper, cleaned
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and salt. Add the ginger-garlic paste and vinegar and whisk with a fork to incorporate all the ingredients.
- Place the fish in a heavy-duty zip-top bag. Spoon half of the marinade into the cavities of the fish and the rest onto the skin. Working from the outside of the bag, rub the marinade all over the fish to evenly coat it. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove the fish 20 minutes before cooking if you have the time.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fish and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes; flip the fish and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.
- Serve immediately, with lime wedges alongside and a scoop of dal to complete the meal.
- Ginger-garlic paste is an indispensible ingredient in Indian cooking, the base of just about every South Indian curry. You can find it at Indian groceries, but making your own is fresher and easy to accomplish: Combine equal amounts ginger and garlic in a food processor (a mini food processor if you have one) and process into a paste, adding just a little water if needed to get achieve a paste consistency. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or spoon little mounds of the paste onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper, freeze the mounds, then pop them into a freezer bag for storage; remove them, thaw, and use as needed. A quick alternative to ginger-garlic paste is to substitute equal parts finely minced garlic and ginger.