Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gingerboy Crispy Yellow Curry Marinated Sea Bream

he says:

I'm definitely a protein based cook, that is I usually decide what protein I want then work out a meal to cook with it. I love eating fish and really don't cook it enough, instead I often favour prawns or squid when it comes to cooking seafood. I love cooking whole fried fish too but the other day I decided it was time to try something new. For Christmas my sister gave me the Gingerboy cookbook which is one of those beautifully photographed but quite complicated recipe books that you often end up reading and drooling over more than actually cooking from it. After quite a bit of drooling over the pages I decided to have a go at the Gingerboy Crispy Yellow Curry Marinated Garfish, except that I decided to use Sea Bream instead.


The recipe wasn't as complicated as many of the other recipes in the Gingerboy cookbook which was definitely a deciding factor given that it was a weeknight. I won't go into the recipe in detail but basically it comprised making a yellow curry paste, palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce marinade the battering the marinated fish with a rice flour batter and deep frying it. I've been quite drawn to deep frying these days, it obviously isn't a healthy option but I really feel its a skill worth developing. Getting the oil temperature right is the tricky thing but once you get a handle on that it is actually a quite easy and very delicious way of preparing chicken and seafood. I use my wok for deep frying and skimp a bit on the oil as it seems so wasteful to pour in two litres of oil just for a meal for two. To make up for the use of less oil I make sure I constantly spoon the oil over the fish as I am frying it. The deep frying produced a lovely crunchy coating that when bitten into yields to the delicious tender fish.

For the salad I tried to reproduce and interpret the chinese cabbage, apple and mint salad I had on my recent visit to Red Spice Road. The salad was very simple to prepare and a deliciously crunchy and refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to the fried fish. Firstly I shredded up some chinese cabbage with my trusty mandolin (if you don't have one, get to Footscray and buy yourself one) to julienne a crunchy green pear. This is then mixed up with some Vietnamese mint, finely sliced shallots and of course a few scud chillies to give it a bit of kick. For dressing I went for my old faithful, Nuoc Mam with a bit of lime juice. The Nuoc Mam works perfectly with the texture of the pear and chinese cabbage, crunchy and zesty with a hit of chilli, just like you expect from a Vietnamese salad. I was really happy with how this salad worked out and will definitely be preparing it again.


The real highlight of the night for me was a bit of a breakthrough moment of cooking my first caramelised vinegar dipping sauce. I had eaten this kind of sauce a few times at different places and was always rapturous about how the sweetness of the caramelised sugar and sourness of the vinegar combined so beautifully. At the time I had no idea how this was achieved but after reading my Gingerboy cookbook a bit more carefully (instead of just drooling over the pictures) I discovered a recipe for Red Vinegar Caramel. Its one of those wonderful asian recipes that is actually very simple but really delivers.

The recipe is as follows:

100 g light palm sugar (grated or chopped until fine)
3 tbs water
1 garlic cover (finely chopped)
1 red birds eye chilli (finely chopped)
3 1/2 tbs red vingar
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs light soy sauce

Dissolve the palm sugar in the water and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer on a low heat for 8 minutes until the sauce thickens and changes to a golden colour. Stir though the garlic and chilli and then carefully add the remaining liquids and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

nuoc mam on the left and red vinegar caramel sauce on the right 

I really loved this sauce and would recommend everyone give it a go. My first effort was perhaps not quite sweet enough for my personal preference so next time I will adjust the vinegar levels a bit but I was definintely very pleased with how well it complimented the fried fish. I also have a recipe for black vinegar caramel so that's next for sure.

my trust mandolins, these babies get very regular use

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