For those who are fed up with all the meaty meals on offer, here is a festive whole fish dish.
When we were in Myanmar, we had grilled white snapper, on the beach, every night. Imagine my joy to find whole white snapper here in Singapore! No BBQ here, though, so decided to roast the fish, although you could grill it too. Here I’ve used one small-ish fish for two people, but you could get a larger one, or cook several,depending on how many you are feeding (getting a big snapper might be difficult). You could use sea bass or sea bream instead, and if you have a BBQ, then it will be even tastier!
1 snapper about 300-400 gm
40 ml fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
25 g shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 birds eye chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
25 g palm sugar
15 g seedless tamarind pulp, soaked, or 2 tbsp prepared pulp in a jar
salt and pepper
coriander to garnish
Preheat over to 220 C/gas mark 7.
Slash the fish on both sides and place in a shallow dish, adding a bit of salt and pepper.
Sprinkle over the fish sauce, making sure it goes in the slashes and the gut cavity and leave to marinate. Pour off the excess into a small pan, but ensure you have at least 30 ml, so make up any shortfall.
Heat the oil, and stir fry in succession, first the shallots, then the garlic and finally the chillies. They should all be golden brown and crisp. Drain them on kitchen paper.
Add the sugar, 2 tbsp water and strained tamarind pulp (if soaking it with seeds in) to the pan with the fish sauce and bring to the boil. Set aside while you roast the fish.
Pop the fish into the oven of a lightly oiled tin and roast/grill for 12-15 minutes. Check if its done by inserting a sharp knife into the thickest part just behind the gills.
Bring the sauce back to the boil, chuck in half of the golden garlic, shallot and chillies. Put the fish onto a serving dish, pour over the sauce, and garnish with the remaining crispy mixture, and some coriander leaves.
Serve with rice and green veg. Or even a salad. Brings back memories of our lovely holiday!