Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fish Fry-The only kind I seem to know!!

I grew up in a small town called Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India. It is a town sacred to Hindus/Buddhists and eating a lot of non vegetarian food is not the norm. However, many people ofcourse do. The preferred meat of choice is lamb and chicken. Fish is consumed largely by the Bengali folks here and Pork/Beef meat, hardly at all. Like most of the regular families, mine also mostly eats lamb and chicken although my father loves fish/seafood. My mother is allergic to all kinds of fish as a result of which, cooking fish was a rarity in my house. Me and my brother never developed a taste for it and till date we often struggle to get reasonably excited  to eat fish.

All that changed for me when I fell in love with a South Indian boy! My husband is from Kerela and was  brought up in Chennai. He is from a family which is a hardcore fish/seafood  eating one. They sometimes even eat fish curries for breakfast! This is some kind of 'blasphemy' for a staid north Indian like me-food wise that is. Anyhow, I quickly realised after getting married that I will have to buy, clean and cook fish on a very,very regular basis if I was to be peacefuly and happily married. Oh dear! I had never ever bought fish, never cleaned or cooked it before my marriage. This was going to be a genuine test for me. Over the years though, I am happy to report, I have surprisingly grown fond of at least all kinds of shell fish , if not fresh water. I do feel squeamish cleaning it but have now mastered many kinds of curries and dry fish dishes which my husband says is almost 'Malayalee' (Keralite). Most of the curries/fries I know belong to Kerela and I never use Bengali styles of cooking fish because my husband actively dislikes bengali cuisine. I cook fish at least four times a week if not everyday.

The recipe I am going to share today is my all time go-to recipe for a quick and simple fried fish. Requiring minimum marination time, I recommend using Sardines or Mackeral, which is what I have seen being used in Kerela cuisine. I sometimes go a step further in changing up the marinade slightly which also tastes just as nice. Husband of mine is one happy bunny whenever I make this. The traditional way I have seen my mother in law marinating is the use of simply- tumeric powder, red chilli powder and salt to taste. She then shallow fries the marinated fish. Thats is. I however add corrainder powder, black pepper powder and fresh lemon juice too. You can prepare your marinade whichever way you wish to. My mother in law's method is just as good and keeps the flavours more natural and fresh.

How to:

4-5 pieces of small to medium sized whole Sardines/Mackeral, not sliced.
1 tsp heaped red chilli powder or according to preferance
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper powder (optional)
salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon if large in size or juice of 2 small sized lemons.

To be used when frying the fish:

5-6 tbsp any vegetable or coconut oil (which I personaly dislike)
1 tsp heaped ginger/garlic paste
5-6 curry leaves

Mix the ingredients listed in the first section in a bowl and marinate the fish pieces in it for at least half an hour. As usual, the longer you marinate your meat, the better the taste. But fish being so tender as a meat, does not usually demand a very long marinating time. Anyhow.

Now, this is where I do it slightly differently apart from using corriander powder in the marinade. Some people also apply a small quantity of ginger-garlic paste to the fish. I used to do that too but realised that when I started to fry them, they would quickly burn and taste bitter. So now this is how I fry the marinated fish.

Take about 5-6 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Once it is heated through, add in 1 tsp of heaped ginger-garlic paste. Brown this paste to a nice golden brown but take care not to burn it. Now place the marinated fish pieces in the pan and shallow fry till crisp, and browned on both sides. Say about 4-5 minutes in each side on a high or medium flame. The use of ginger garlic paste this way gives it a nice crunch and colour. In the last 2 minutes of frying, I also throw in a few curry leaves, about 5-6. Curry leaves used at this stage takes it to a whole new level.

Here are some pictures to guide you along.

The marinated fish above.

Fried with some curry leaves and fresh green chillis.

Serve fresh along with Sambhar and rice or even just as is at the start of the meal with some sliced onions and crisply fried green chillis.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Harsh, was just going thru ur blog, first time! Very interesting and kept me engaged n enthralled for a long long time... Now I hv to really shut n say good night(time is 00:16) else won't make it for Joannas skool in the morning... Admire ur interest n patience In presenting yummy looking dishes(must try some of 'em n write back to u) talking of your above recipe-.such simplest of Recipes, yet great effort, way to go!! Still lost in that fish fry... Zzzz...Ashi