Once the bone is removed and you fry the fish, it crisps up and a lovely pocket in the centre of the fish is created, perfect for adding your salad and dressing on top.
Serve a whole fried fish as part of a dinner centrepiece, or replace with firm white fish fillets for individual serves.
- 1 whole barramundi (about 700 g), ask your fishmonger to scale, gut and debone
- 4 eggs
- 100 g potato starch
- 1 tbsp fried Asian shallots
- 2 coriander sprigs, for garnish
- 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 125 ml (½ cup water)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp lime juice
Green papaya salad
- 1 cup julienned green papaya
- ¼ cup bean sprouts
- 6 perilla leaves, sliced
- 6 Vietnamese mint leaves, sliced
- 6 mint leaves, sliced
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup finely sliced banana blossom hearts (see note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the nuoc cham, place the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to just below boiling point, then set aside to cool. Stir in the garlic, chilli and lime juice. Makes 1 cup.
Place the fish on a tray and press down along the spine of the fish to invert its belly making it lay flat on the tray in a boat like shape.
Fill a wok one third full with vegetable oil and place over high heat until 180˚C.
While the oil is heating, place the eggs in a large shallow bowl and lightly beat. Place the potato starch on a large plate. Coat the fish in the beaten egg, allowing the excess to drain, then coat well with the potato starch until the fish is dry to touch. Deep-fry the fish for 6 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
While the fish is cooking, place all the ingredients for the green papaya salad in a large bowl. Add
60 ml (¼ cup) nuoc cham and toss gently.
To serve, place the salad in the pocket of the barramundi and garnish with fried shallots and coriander.
•To prevent the banana blossom hearts from oxidising once sliced, keep them in a bowl of cold water with the juice of ½ lemon until ready to use, then drain.
•The nuoc cham will make more than you need but keeps well in the refrigerator for up 2 weeks.