November 07, 2006
Meen Porichathu/ Fish Fry
Fish fry is an essential item on the menu anywhere in Kerala. The fish varies, the marinade varies, but a noon meal (oonu) is not a meal without it. The hotels stick to the economical big fish but there is a variety of small fish freshly caught and sold every day which makes every fish fry a different one. Now when I am standing in an Asian grocery store looking at the big, bigger and biggest fish spread out on ice, a pang of envy crosses my mind. But instead of dwelling on it, I decide to fry the familiar King fish and Pomfret(Neimeen and aakoli). The thick salmon, swordfish etc also takes well to the marinade but the thin fillets have to be fried with care.
Fresh fish fry may stink up your whole house but will definitely warm your heart and fill you up with marvellous memories of other fish fries, the tastes and tales back home. I grill fish often using the same marinade with a bit of oil added in but nothing can beat the crispness of a deep fried fish. It is considered to taste good with rice :)) but somehow, it tastes best by itself just as it is fried, before it cools down.
You will need:
Fish – 1lb or ½ kg ( Pomfret/King fish or any firm fish)cut into thin slices
This one is made with black pomfret/pompano( Aakoli)
Red Chilli Powder - 4 heaped tsp More or less as per spice level
Turmeric Powder -1 1/2 tsp
Garlic powder – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice-1 tsp, 2 tbsp for rinsing.
Ginger powder-1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves -4 (optional)
Salt,- 3/4 tsp or to taste
Canola Oil- about ½ cup as needed for frying.
Clean the fish properly. Toss with about 2 tbsp of the lemon juice, rinse and pat dry with paper towels or drain completely.
Make a fine paste of the spice powders and curry leaves, mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice and salt. Add few teaspoons of water if needed to make a thick paste. At this point, taste the marinade (relax, it is not yet fishy) and add more seasoning if needed.
Marinate the fish evenly with this paste. This is best done by hand, to allow the marinade to penetrate into the fish.
Keep aside for at least half an hour. Heat the oil in a shallow thick bottom sauté pan and slide in the fish pieces one by one. Don't drop the fish in from the top. Deep fry (in that case,add more oil) or shallow fry on medium heat as preferred. Flip the fish pieces only after 3-4 minutes to prevent it from cracking and splattering.
The total frying time should take anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes depending on how big the fish pieces are and how crisp (well done) you would like it to be. I like it pretty crisp whereas my sibling needs to get it just right, not too rare, not too crisp, still soft and moist. So each to his own cooking time. The oil would stop crackling when it is almost done. Serve it with lime and onion slices.
P.S. One way to get rid of the fishy smell is to boil undiluted vinegar. Then dip a small kitchen towel in it, wring out excess vinegar and walk around the house waving it.(Muttering or chanting "go away fish smell,come back another day"):)It absorbs the smell. Then just aerate the kitchen for some time. It does provide entertainment for my little one.
Food BLog, Fish Fry, Kerala Recipes, Malabar Recipes