Crispy Pan Fried Fish
This delicious recipe for fish comes from talented food writer Shu Han Lee. This simple, tasty dish features our less salt soy sauce. It would be perfect for serving as part of a Chinese feast
- 2 fish fillets, I used hake in this case
- 2 tablespoons groundnut oil, for frying
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Pinch of sea salt
- For the marinade
- 4 tablespoons Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- To serve
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
The trick to getting crisp golden skin is to make sure the skin is completely dry. This is trickier if you’re using defrosted fish – make sure to pat dry and leave in the fridge, uncovered, for a little while. Another tricky scenario is if you like your fish a bit more interestingly seasoned than plain old salt and pepper. For this marinated hake recipe, I stir together the ingredients for the marinade, and pour into a small baking tray, before adding the fish fillets, skin-side up. Place in the fridge uncovered for at least 15 minutes, during which you can go prepare the rest of dinner or even go have a shower.
This extra step is a special one specific to this recipe. I add a bit of oil to a pan and fry chopped garlic over medium heat till they are golden, before removing and setting them aside to let them cool and crisp up. Leave the oil in the pan.
Remove the fish from the baking tray, reserving the marinade. Pat the skin dry with a kitchen towel and season with a tiny pinch of salt. Heat the oil until it is very hot, but not smoking. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down.
Press firmly down on the fish with a spatula until it relaxes and lies flat. Alternatively, score the skin of the fish lightly after Step 2.
Turn the heat down to a medium and cook until the flesh is nearly opaque. While that’s happening, the bottom will get all nice and golden brown and crisp but DO NOT flip to check, or you risk the fish breaking up into pieces. That’s how curiosity killed the cat’s perfectly pan-fried dinner.
Slide your spatula under the fillet, and using your other hand as a guide, flip it over, away from you. Remove the pan from the heat and let the other side finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan, it will only take a minute or less, depending on how thick your fillet is. Err on the side of undercooking, remember it will continue cooking in its own residual heat.
Remove the fish from the pan and pour in the reserved marinade. Place the pan back over the stove and bring it to a boil, letting it simmer for a couple of minutes before pouring over the fish. Finish with the crispy garlic, chilli and spring onions.
Serve straight away with your choice of sides – plain steamed rice and vegetables are perfect against this.
This recipe is incredibly versatile, and can be used for various other kinds of fish and with different sides, e.g. salmon, over noodle soup.