Get your fishmonger to prepare the bream for you and this Thai fried fish will be much easier to make. In these crazy times, my fishmonger wasn’t around to do the work so I had to do it myself.
It wasn’t all that difficult. Still, I’m looking forward to better times when I can have him do it for me.
Fried fish is hugely popular done this way not only in Thailand but at Thai restaurants here in the west. I love deep fried fish and chips but this Thai recipe takes fried fish to a whole new and delicious level.
The coriander and lime sauce with all that lemongrass just plain gets it!
How to butterfly the fish
If your fishmonger isn’t able to butterfly the fish for you, get yourself a sharp knife. From the top of the fish, fillet downwards from the back bone. Try not to lose much meat! You want to carefully cut along the bones.
Once you have filleted the fish on both sides of the back bone, turn the fish over and carefully remove the bones. All of them! There will be a few pin bones that don’t want to come out be be sure they are all out.
Make shallow slits in the meat. This will help it cook in the oil.
You could make the sauce a few hours before serving without losing much of the magnificent colour. If colour isn’t all that important to you, make it a couple of days earlier if you like.
The fish can be butterflied a day or so before cooking as well but fish is always best eaten on the day you buy it. Remember, fresh is best.
Make this recipe your own
Thai food is known for being spicy. That said, the best Thai food is the Thai food that appeals most to you taste preferences.
Feel free to add more of any of the primary flavours in the sauce. If you prefer a saltier flavour, add more fish sauce. For a sweeter flavour add more sugar and if you like a good sour touch, that’s the lime juice.
When it comes to how spicy the sauce is, that too is completely down to you. Please use this recipe as a guide but add more or fewer chillies to taste.
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- FOR THE FISH
- 2 large sea bream - butterflied
- 1 generous cup plain flour
- Salt and pepper
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 30g (1 cup) fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 70ml (¼ cup) fresh squeezed lime juice (approx. 2-3 limes)
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 4 lemongrass stalks – white part only with outer layer removed
- 5 cloves garlic - smashed
- 1 generous tbsp minced galangal or ginger
- 3 green bird’s eye chillies – roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp palm surgar or honey
- 2 long red chillies – cut into thin rings
- To make the sauce, blend two of the chopped lemongrass stalks together with the coriander, lime juice, water, fish sauce, garlic, galangal, bird's eye chillies and sugar until smooth.
- Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed (canola) oil in a large frying pan. When hot, add the blended sauce and bring to a simmer. Keep warm.
- Heat about a bottle of rapeseed (canola) oil in a large wok. You are aiming for a temperature of 180c/356f.
- To make the fish, place the butterflied fish on a plate and dust with the flour and salt and pepper to taste. Ensure the whole fish is covered with flour.
- Remove and excess flour.
- When the oil has reached frying temperature, slowly lower one of the fish into the oil and fry for about 8 minutes. Repeat with the other fish.
- Now add the remaining lemongrass and sliced red chillies to the oil and fry for a few seconds until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- Spoon some of the sauce on two heated plated and nestle place the fried fish on top.
- Drizzle with more sauce and garnish with the fried sliced lemongrass and chillies.