thai turmeric fried fish & plum fennel herb salad

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no one told me that turmeric would stain my fingers for an entire week, so i'm warning you - use gloves! i made this fish right before seeing the beautiful soul that is sam smith in concert, and had a mini panic attack because i couldn't rub the yellow stains off my fingers no matter how hard i tried. i also have a bad habit of not wearing an apron and drying my hands on my clothes while cooking. to my surprise, i later discovered hot yellow finger prints all over the butt side of my jean shorts.

so i regretfully showed up to the concert with stained bright yellow fingers...and to work the next day...and to church. this was alongside the temporary tattoos of a gigantic cat wearing heart sunglasses and a rainbow t-shirt, pink unicorn, ice cream cone, and pizza on my shoulders and arms. thinking about it now, i guess i've been looking like a straight up hot mess of a grown woman child for the past few days.

back to the fish, i felt a bit sad that i had to pay nearly $30 for a whole red snapper at whole foods (i'm pretty sure my mom would have slapped me on the back) - but whatever, it was sooooo worth it. hopefully you won't have to pay an arm and a leg for a whole fish, feel free to substitute the snapper with other flaky small white fish like tilapia or trout.

the fish came out uber crisped on the outside with flavorful tender meat on the inside. and that refreshing bite of a chilled herby salad with tart plums and fennel..it was pure summer perfection in my mouth all at one time.

xo, christine

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thai turmeric fried fish & plum fennel herb salad

 

ingredients

plum fennel salad

2 small firm plums, sliced

2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup of fresh spearmint, chopped

dressing

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1 tablespoon sambal olek chili paste

1/2 tablespoon viet huong fish sauce

1/4 tablespoon sea salt

fish

1  whole red snapped, ask butcher to butterfly fillet for you!

3/4 cup fresh turmeric (5-6 nuggets)

3/4 cup fresh garlic (6-7 cloves)

1/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup tapioca starch

4 cups canola oil for frying

notes

prepare the salad in advance so that you can chill it in the fridge before serving:

  1. toss plum, fennel, red onion, cilantro, and spearmint in a bowl. cover and set in fridge
  2. whisk together sesame oil, lime juice, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar, chili paste, fish sauce, and salt in a small bowl until salt and sugar is dissolved. cover and set in fridge.

fish prep

  1. cut 3 slits on the outside of each side of the fish
  2.  sprinkle and pat salt inside fish
  3. grind whole unpeeled turmeric and garlic gloves using mortar and pestle until roughly crushed. feel free to chop or use food processor.
  4. rub turmeric and garlic on the inside and in slits, set aside for 20 minutes
  5. remove turmeric and garlic, set aside in a small bowl
  6. using a paper towel, pat dry the inside and outside of fish
  7. coat all sides of fish with tapioca flour

frying the fish & assembly

  1. open your windows and turn on that stove vent!
  2. place oil in a wok or deep set pot for frying, heat on high for 4-5 minutes
  3. take a bit of tapioca flour from fish and test the oil heat. if the oil is bubbles around the flour, you're good to go. if the oil violently splatters, reduce heat to medium high and test oil readiness again.
  4. set the fish in the wok as flat as possible. fry the first side for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. spoon oil over top of fish + lift the bottom of the fish using a spatula every few minutes to prevent sticking
  5. gently flip the fish and fry for another 5-7 minutes
  6. carefully remove fish from oil using 2 spatulas, and transfer onto a cooling rack
  7. fry turmeric and garlic in the same oil until golden and crisped, around 5-7 minutes  
  8. remove turmeric and garlic using a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer into a small bowl lined with a paper towel
  9. toss salad with dressing, lay mixed salad on a large serving platter, set fish atop salad and scatter fried turmeric and garlic over the fish!