When we are talking about sweet and sour fish recipes, there are actually many versions which are slightly different from one another. Although the cooking method and some of the ingredients are different, but they are actually have one thing in common , they have the same sweet and sour flavors.
Sweet and sour fish is also one of the Chinese cuisine which is very well known in Indonesia. You can easily find this dish in Chinese food restaurants in big cities in Java province such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Semarang (I don’t know about other cities though since Indonesia is a very big country). Usually, this is a much have dish during Chinese New Year, birthday, celebration, and even wedding parties for most Chinese families living in big cities.
My mother also used to make this dish at home and our family favorite is always gourami fish (fresh water fish that we can get easily in the wet market). Well, actually there are many kind of fish that can be use to make sweet and sour fish, such as red snapper, white snapper, dory fish, or even garoupa.
When I first ordered sweet and sour fish in Singapore, I was quite surprised to see how different it was from the one that I used to have in Indonesia. In Singapore, the sauce is thick and not watery and the sauce is cooked together with the fish. So the fish is coated well with the sauce thus make it less crispy when you eat it.
In Indonesia, the common version of this dish is: we pour the sauce all over the crispy fried fish on a big serving plate. We usually do not mix together the fish and the sauce in the plate, so if you want more sauce, you have to spoon it from the bottom of the plate. The sauce is also thick but a little watery. We can still taste the crispiness of the fish since we do not mix or coat the fish with the sauce. When we order this as takeaway, the restaurant will package the sauce in different container from the fish. We can also ask the chef to separate the fried fish from the sauce (which is usually served in a different bowl) when we eat at the restaurant. This is because little kids usually only like to eat the fried fish and not the sauce, so parents sometimes ask the sauce to be served separately.
Anyway, we like both versions and my son who usually only enjoyed eating the fried fish only, is now beginning to like eating it with the sauce. His favorite is still the Indonesian version because he can still taste the crispiness of the sauce and I usually separate the sauce in a small bowl for him. He will dip the fish one by one into the sauce in the bowl before eating it with steam rice.
This recipe below is the Indonesian version which I cooked last night and the three of us finished 2 cups of rice (@ 180 ml) with this dish, and it was a lot of rice………….
For this dish, I used dory fish since it was easy to find in the wet market nearby and with no bones……..
You can also add pineapple slices in the sauce as the restaurants usually do, but I didn’t use it since I am the only one who likes pineapple in the house.
For the fish:
- 4 dory fish fillet (each 180 gr)
- 5 small limes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 garlic
- 4 tbsp corn starch / tapioca starch
- cooking oil
For the sauce:
- 1/2 large onion, cut into thin slices
- 2 garlic, minced
- 1 paprika, cut into long thin slices
- 1 carrot, cut into long thin slices
- 1 thumb of ginger, cut 6
- 10 spring onion, cut into 2 cm
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp corn starch, a4 tbsp of water and mix until there are no lumps
- 900 gr (4 tbsp) tomato sauce
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Worcester sauce / kecap inggris
- 500 ml water
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- pineapple slices (optional)
For the fish:
- Pat the fish fillet until thoroughly dry with paper towels. Squeeze limes over it. Let it stand in room temperature for 5 minutes. Cut the fish into 2×2 cm and transfer the fish slices into a medium bowl
- Mash garlic and salt together with mortar and pestle until they form a paste. Season the fish slices in the bowl with this mixture by mixing them with your hand
- Add corn starch / tapioca starch to coat the fish slices evenly. I usually mixing them with my hand. Let it stand in room temperature for another 10 minutes or you can keep in the fridge (not freezer) for about 1 hour before frying the fish
- Fill a big wok to 1/3 depth with oil and heat up till hot. Add the fish slice one by one and fry the fish in 2 or 3 batches (don’t overcrowd the wok). Constantly stirring and separating the fish slices by using a BBQ tong or wooden spatula. Deep fry until the fish slices turn to golden brown and drain with paper towels
- Transfer the crispy fried fish to a serving plate
For the sauce:
- Heat up a medium pan with 3 tbsp of cooking oil
- Add ginger and stir fry until aromatic
- Add garlic, stir fry again until fragrant
- Add large onion, paprika, and carrot, continue stirring until the carrot is half cooked
- Add tomato sauce, Worcester sauce, salt, and sugar, and mix well with other ingredient
- Add water and bring the sauce to boil and the carrot is thoroughly cooked
- Add corn starch mixture with water, quickly stir to mix well and bring the sauce to boil again
- Add spring onion, stir fry for another 20 seconds, then turn off the heat
- Pour the sauce on top of the fish slices. Serve hot with chili sauce and hot steam rice