Braised fish in hot and spicy sauce

Braised fish in hot and spicy sauce

Ikan masak bali (Java)

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South East Asian Food

The ‘bali’ refers to the sauce, not to the island of Bali, as this dish and the two following are in fact Javanese. The spicing and flavouring of bumbu bali is not dissimilar from that of semur but the cooking style is of distinctly Chinese heritage. All the dishes here are eaten in small quantities to flavour rice. I have given a range of flavour strengths to choose from – test the strength and the balance for yourself. The flavour should be tangy (sweet–sour) and hot.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 small fish, cleaned, scaled and slashed two or three times across each side, about 600 g total
salt, to taste
lime juice
vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons dark soya sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind water or lime juice, to taste
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 red chilli, sliced, for garnish

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
6 red chillies, seeded and chopped
1 thick slice fresh ginger
or 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste, whichever you prefer
2 garlic cloves, sliced
5 shallots, sliced

Method

  1. Rub the fish with salt and lime juice. Heat the oil in a wok and deep-fry the whole fish the Asian way until golden, turning carefully so as not to break the flesh. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a mortar or a food processor attachment grind the spices to a paste. Fry the paste in l tablespoon of oil in a wok or wide pan until it is soft. Add water, soya sauce, tamarind water and sugar, and adjust flavours to taste. Return the fish to the pan and let the broth simmer without a lid until the sauce has evaporated and thickened. Serve the fish on a plate with the much reduced sauce poured over it and garnish with chilli slices.
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