Whole Sizzling Catfish with Chile-Black Bean Sauce
This dish makes a spectacular presentation. The deep-frying stiffens the fish, making it possible for it to stand up on the platter. The catfish is served with green onions and tomato dice, as would seem proper — and pickled ginger!
- Catfish - 2 whole (11⁄2 to 2 pounds each)
- Fresh Ginger - 1⁄2 cup, peeled and thinly sliced
- Vegetable Oil - for deep-frying
- Rice Flour - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Sesame Oil - 1 teaspoon
- Garlic - 1 teaspoon, chopped
- Ginger - 1 teaspoon, minced
- Chinese Fermented Black Beans - 1⁄4 cup
- Garlic Chile Paste - 1 teaspoon (available in Oriental markets)
- Dry Sherry - 1⁄4 cup
- Soy Sauce - 1⁄2 cup
- Green Onions - 1⁄4 cup, chopped
- Canned Stewed Tomatoes - 1⁄4 cup, seeded and diced, peeled
- Pickled Ginger - 1⁄4 cup
Make 5 incisions on each side of the whole catfish by slicing on the diagonal to bone. Stuff the slits with the fresh ginger slices.
In a large heavy pot or deep fryer heat 6 inches of oil to 350 F. Dredge the fish in the rice flour, coating evenly, and shake off any excess flour. One at a time, drop the fish in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a pair of slotted spoons, lift out the fish and drain on paper towels.
In a small saucepan heat the olive and sesame oils over medium-high heat and sauté the garlic, ginger, and black beans for 1 minute. Add the chile paste, sherry, and soy, and reduce by half. Pour over the cooked fish and garnish with the green onions, tomatoes, and pickled ginger.