Fried snapper August 5, 2012Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish.
Goodness gracious. One thing about fiction is that the heroes are rarely sick – except if it suits their plans when capturing a murderer. I’ll probably be corrected, but I cannot remember a single time when Nero Wolfe comes down with the flu or is otherwise incapacitated. I have not been so lucky. Unlike Nero Wolfe I have had all sorts of lurgies and coughs, and certainly no appetite for posting about food. Luckily I seem to finally be recovered, and food is once again interesting.
While I’ve cooked whole snapper many times before, I had not fried a whole fish. After buying some beautiful fresh snapper, I decided I wanted something with Asian flavours, and thought it might be a good opportunity to try frying a whole fish. I started by mixing garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice, spring onions and chili in my mortar and pestle until I had a smooth(ish) paste.
I put that aside and prepared the fish – which was really just a matter of patting it dry and making some cuts almost through to the bone.
I also rubbed some flour into the fish, just to make sure it was dry and assist with the frying process.
While I’m not an expert on frying, I thought I’d explain how I do my frying. I use grapeseed oil – or vegetable oil if I don’t have any grapeseed oil – as this has a high burn temperature and tends to not smell out the entire house with ‘fry’ smell. I use my candy thermometer to monitor the temperature and let the oil reach 180ºC before I put anything in. I fry in small batches if possible, again monitoring the temperature while the food is in there and maintain it at 180 as much as possible. I also let the oil heat back up to 180 in between batches.
Anyway, back to the fish. My wok wasn’t large enough to submerge the fish in one go, so I ended up moving it around a couple of times to ensure all parts were covered. Somewhat creepily, as I first lowered the fish into the oil, the heat caused the fin on the side of the fish to point straight up!
I also spooned the hot oil over the top of the fish while it was cooking, to help cook both sides of the fish.
After about 8 minutes, I moved the fish in the wok to cover all areas, and after about 15 minutes, I was able to take it out and declare it done. Since I had the oil all ready to go, I also cooked up some pieces of kohlrabi I’d also floured, to make the chips for my fish.
This is probably the closest I’ll get to Architect’s fish and chips and the result was certainly delicious. The fish was crispy on the outside and soft and flavoursome on the inside. It was contrasted nicely with the sauce, which was very strong and spicy on its own but worked really well with the fish. The chips were also much better than I expected, and were crispy enough to dip into the sauce. All in all I was very pleased with my attempt at frying a whole fish, and it is certainly something I will attempt again.