This is a really succulent dish, and because the fish is steamed, it retains all the moisture. While we used catfish for this recipe, you can alternate it for any white fish.
If you are good with a filleting knife then you may want to start from scratch, but if (like me!) you’re more likely to end up shredding rather than filleting, then I suggest buying a large fillet that has been de-skinned and de-boned for you. Any local supermarket fish deli will provide this service for you.
As this is more of a main meal, I suggest serving it with a helping of rice for each person.
Large fillet of catfish (2 if smaller) or alternative white fish
1-2 large lotus leaves or banana leaves as available
2 tspn salt
2 tspn ground white pepper
4 tspn Aloma rice wine/regular white wine
Lime juice/rice vinegar for washing
Cooked rice (enough for 4 people), served hot
Tamarind and chilli sauce (see below)
Spring onion garnish (2-3 spring onions, sliced into long thin strips)
Firstly, wash the fish in either lime juice or rice vinegar. This will get rid of the fishy smell, and leave you with a really fresh smelling fish. Cut the fish into long, thick strips, around one inch wide:
Place the fish into a mixing bowl, and add the salt, Aloma or White wine and pepper to the fish. Mix well, being careful to avoid breaking up the fish. We used chopsticks for this process, but I think using your fingers to rub the ingredients over the fish would be easier.
Lay out the large banana or lotus leaves on the table and place the chunks of fish onto the leaves. Fold the leaves inwards to create a parcel with the fish inside.
Steam the fish for 15 minutes in a steamer, making sure the opening to the leaves is on the underside, helping to keep it closed.
While the fish is cooking, create the tamarind and chilli sauce using either pre-made tamarind paste (recommended) or tamarind solid. If using solid, slice off an appropriate amount and place in a bowl. Boil some water and pour it over the tamarind solid (not too much, the paste should be of a decent thickness) and leave for 20 minutes. Finally, to remove the remaining solids, sieve the tamarind mixture over a separate bowl. Add a tablespoon of mild chilli sauce and stir. The consistency should be similar to a sweet and sour or Hoisin sauce.
Serve hot with the rice and drizzle some of the tamarind and chilli sauce over the fish. Place the remaining sauce in a bowl as a condiment for the meal, and sliced spring onion garnish over the fish.
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