Taking advantage of the Chinese New Year sales, we finally have a proper flat-bottomed pan, which means we can pan-fry stuff without oil splattering everywhere. Which in turn means the revival of a classic.
Here we use pomfret, but honestly any fish with firm flesh that doesn’t flake when pan-seared should do. Spanish mackerel (batang) and tuna are awesome with this treatment. Sear, then cloak in the night-dark sauce and plenty of aromatics to finish, wafting the aromas of caramel, ginger, garlic… not all good things take a long time.
Serves 2 – 3
1 pomfret, scored on both sides
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smacked
1 piece of ginger, about 5cm, julienned
3 to 4 shallots, sliced
2 dried chillies
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
Sprinkle of white pepper powder
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp water
Sprinkle of salt
2 tbsp cornflour
First use 1 tbsp of cornflour and salt to rub all over the fish. Let it sit a while, then wash it off and pat dry. Then use the rest of the cornflour to rub again, and let it stay on.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the pan, then place the fish in.
Pan fry for about 3 minutes on both sides, until the skin is browned. (The cornstarch coating will help retain moisture, so the skin browns but the meat is still moist.)
When both sides are browned, add in the shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger and stir-fry to heat through. Let it sit for about 3 minutes until the shallots and ginger have softened.
Finally, add the dark sauce. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover, and let it steam for about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with anything that can work with a soy-heavy, savoury, caramelly gravy (ie. pretty much anything).