The Art of Aquatic Cooking

Fish & Lotus Tuber
Stir Fry

By Tuckfook Ng, Penang, Malaysia 

Fresh deboned white fish
Lotus tuber
White onion
Corn starch
Wheat flour (low protien eg. cake flour)
2 Tbs. sesame oil
Finely chopped garlic

Note that the amounts are left to you. Use as much as you need for your meal. Everything is healthy so make more.

Cut fish into 3/4" thick x 1/2" wide x 3" long. Season with salt and pepper and make sure it is at room temperature before cooking.

Cut vegetables into about the same length as the fish, carrots in wedges, similarly the lotus tuber, celery just the same length, onion in wedges also.

Make a light batter of 50% each of corn starch and cake flours with a little salt. The batter should be runny like full cream milk. Put in 1 Tbs vodka or light rum. Mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes and mix well again.

Put fish into batter and mix well to coat fish completely. Place fish onto a sieve to drain excess batter.

Prepare a pan half full of vegetable oil, enough to cook all the fish at once. Heat oil until it starts to smoke. Be extremely careful!

Put the fish into the hot oil, piece by piece, very quickly. The fish should cook in about 2 minutes and be lightly brown. If not cook a little longer.

Sieve out the cooked fish - be careful not to handle the fish too much or it will break apart. For novices it'll be best to use a firmer fleshed white fish. Texture-wise, a softer fish like cod is preferred. Drain off the oil.

Heat a wok with 5 + Tbs vegetable oil, or use a large deep frying pan, until the oil starts to smoke, add onions & garlic first followed by carrots, lotus then celery last. All the time stirring vigorously to get the vegetables cooked evenly as well as a little burnt. Then add the sesame oil. Do not overcook. How to tell? The carrots and lotus change color! Cooking time is about 7 minutes.

Add in chicken stock or water with a chicken stock cube, just enough produce a little sauce to coat everything. Use 1 tsp of corn flour to 1 cup stock as thickening.

As soon as it boils, mix in all the fish very quickly, toss briefly and serve in a deep dish or plate.

Taste to see if the sauce is salty enough and add a good dose of white pepper on top. If not, sprinkle some soy sauce without mixing it in. Use Chinese soy sauce and not Japanese in this dish as Japanese soy sauce has a stronger fermented smell, unless you especially like that smell. You can also use Thai fish sauce. Serve immediately.

Tasting notes:

Carrots are soft near the thin edges of the wedge and firmer on the thick side. They are sweet in the middle and the outside takes on the taste of the sesame oil and fish.

The Lotus is firm on the thin side and very crunchy on the thick side. Initially you taste the sauce but when you chew, the fragrance of the lotus tuber is released into your mouth tempting you for more.

The onions adds a firmiliar taste and texture that cleanses the palate for another piece.

The celery adds a contrasting taste, texture and fragrance to the others -- refreshing.

The fish should melt in your mouth, held together by the light batter that serves to soak up all the sauce, now nice and smooth.

This dish is difficult to make and messy (because of the deep frying) but one of my favourites.

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