There are two most popular way to cook Silver Pomfret (ikan bawal) in Indonesian household, one is to steam with ginger, garlic and sesame oil. The other one is to cook it with soy sauce and chili or ikan kecap (ikan for fish, kecap for soy sauce). Fried fish with soy sauce is common dish in both Indonesian and Chinese restaurants.
The Indonesian-style fried fish soy sauce has to use Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Other sweet soy sauce will result in different taste of sauce. Equally nice though, but not quite the same.
The sauce is cooked first, then the fried fish is added. The ingredients for the sauce are quick to prepare. This sweet, sour and spicy sauce is always a hit for children. Home cooked fish with soy is much healthier, since no additional cornstarch is added and less sugar. Serve with steamed rice.
Fried Fish with Sweet Soy Sauce, Ikan Bawal Kecap
500 g Silver Pomfret (ikan bawal)
2 cups cooking oil, for deep-frying fish and 1/4 cup cooking oil for soy sauce base
5 shallots, sliced finely
1 tomato, quartered
2 red chilies, sliced thinly diagonally
5 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup water
Heat cooking oil in a wok or deep-fry pan till slightly smokey over high heat. Fry pomfret for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and set aside
Heat the rest of the cooking oil in the same wok over medium heat for a minute.
Add shallot, tomato and chili. Quickly stir for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and water, keep on stirring. Simmer and cover for 3 minutes.
Return fish to the sauce. Mix well till fish covered evenly with sauce. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice.
Fish can be chargrilled or pan-fried instead of deep-fried.
The soy sauce base can be used for other seafood such as prawn, squid and crab.
For thicker, darker sauce, substitute sugar with shaved palm sugar and add more water with a tablespoon of corn starch. That will get you restaurant-style dish.
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