Hot and sour sea bass (Serves 2)
For the fish:
2 sea bass fillets, skin on
flour, for dusting
vegetable or corn oil for frying
For the sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp diced red or yellow pepper
½ tbsp chopped red chilli
30ml chicken stock
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp tamarind extract
juice of half a lime
generous handful young green peppercorns (sold in jars)
Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan or wok three-quarters full with vegetable or corn oil and place over a medium-high heat. Slice the sea bass on the diagonal into pieces about 4cm wide. Dust lightly with flour on both sides.
Carefully add the fish to the hot oil, stirring to ensure that it cooks evenly. Fry for five minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate or tray lined with paper towels.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a separate wok or pan. Add the garlic, diced peppers and chopped chilli and stir-fry quickly over a high heat. After a minute or two, add the chicken stock.
Tear the kaffir lime leaves into pieces and add to the pan, with the fish sauce, oyster sauce, caster sugar and tamarind extract. Squeeze over the lime juice, add the young peppercorns, stir well and leave to bubble for a minute or two.
Carefully add the basil leaves to the pan of hot oil that you used to cook the fish. Remove with a slotted spoon after 20 seconds – the leaves will be crisp.
Divide the sea bass between two plates. Spoon the sauce over the fish and top with a few of the deep-fried basil leaves. Serve immediately.
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