If you've been following my recent posts, you'll know that I've been coming up with "copycat" recipes for some of dishes served at Sailors Thai. This time, I attempted to prepare the deep-fried snapper with three flavour sauce that everyone at our table of ten was raving about. As we ordered only one of each item from the menu, by the time it was passed down to our end of the table, the fish was almost mangled beyond recognition. Okay, perhaps that's an overstatement. Fortunately though, the fish head appeared to be intact, and surprisingly, nobody took the best part - the cheek! If I was having fish with my family (or relatives), the cheek would definitely be the first thing to disappear.
This is actually quite simple and easy to prepare, given that there aren't many ingredients required. The sweet, sour and spicy sauce is briefly simmered in a pan and then poured over the deep-fried fish. I've used a whole snapper here, although you could always substitute with pan-fried fish fillets if preferred. If you're using fresh long red chillies, depending on how hot they are, you may want to consider throwing in a few bird's eye chillies for some extra kick.
Deep-fried Snapper with 3 Flavour Sauce
800g whole snapper (or other firm white fish)
100g (3oz) fresh long red chillies, seeded and finely ground *
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig coriander leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
3 tbsp tamarind pulp concentrate (bottled kind or equivalent)
3 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp vinegar *
1/2 tsp chicken stock granules (optional)
Heat up sufficient oil in a wok and deep fry the basil leaves for 10 seconds or until translucent and crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
Make two or three diagonal slashes across both sides of the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Coat with cornflour and shake off excess. Deep fry in hot oil until crispy and golden. Remove and drain off excess oil, and place the fish on a serving plate.
In a clean pan, heat up 1 tbsp vegetable oil and fry the garlic, followed by the ground chillies and sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer briefly (about half a minute). Pour the sauce over the fish, garnish with crispy basil and coriander leaves. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.
* Note: Instead of using fresh chillies and vinegar for the sauce, you may choose to substitute with Thai sambal oelek instead, which are sold in jars. Sambal oelek can be rather hot though, which is perfect if you like it hot!