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  Added: Sep 20, 2006  •  Visited (4812)  •  Print version Print this recipe (72)  •  eMail recipe eMail recipe  •  Write review  •  Not rated Rate this recipe
Squirrel Fish
(Sung - Shu - Yu)
This is called squirrel fish because the body curls as it is deep-fried-and, when arranged on a plate with the head, the fish is said to look like a squirrel. This recipe uses catsup as a substitute for Chinese crab-apple candy, which has a sweet-sour taste like catsup, but needs lengthy soaking.

What You Need:
  • 2 dried Chinese mushrooms, 1 to 1½ inches in diameter
  • ¼ cup freshly shelled peas, or substitute thoroughly defrosted frozen peas
  • A 2-pound sea bass, cleaned, but with head and tail left on, or substitute pike, carp, red snapper or another firm white fish
  • 3 cups plus 2 additional tablespoons peanut oil, or flavorless vegetable oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 small carrot, scraped and roll-cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 4 peeled and washed fresh water chestnuts or drained canned water chestnuts, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine, or pale dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato catsup
  • ½ cup chicken stock, fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in
  • 2 tablespoons cold chicken stock, fresh or canned, or cold water

  • How To Cook:
    1. In a small bowl, cover the mushrooms with ½ cup of warm water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Discard the water. Cut away and discard the stems, and cut each cap into quarters.

    2. Blanch the fresh peas and carrot wedges in a quart of boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, run cold water over them.

    3. Wash the bass under cold running water and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels. With a cleaver or heavy, sharp knife, remove the head at the point where it joins the body. Turn the head upside down and, with a few sharp blows of a cleaver or heavy knife, break the head bone in the middle.

    4. Then, with the palm of your hand, press down firmly on the top of the head to flatten it. Lay the fish on its side and split it in half, cutting along the backbone, but do not remove the tail. Lift out the backbone, severing it at the base of the tail.

    5. Score the flesh side of each fillet with crisscrossing diagonal cuts an inch apart and almost down to the skin. The bass should be 2 separate fillets joined at the tail.

    6. Have the above ingredients, oil, flour, onion, water chestnuts, garlic, salt, vinegar, sugar, wine, soy sauce, catsup, stock and cornstarch mixture at hand.

    TO COOK:
    1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Pour 3 cups of oil into a 12-inch wok or a large deep-fryer and heat the oil until a haze forms above it or it reaches 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Sprinkle the flour over a piece of wax paper and press the scored sides of the fish into it.

    2. Then coat the skin sides. Hold the fish by the tail, shake it to remove any excess flour and lower it into the hot oil. Flour the head and add it to the pan. Deep-fry the fish for 5 to 8 minutes until the body and head are golden brown.

    3. Lift the fish out of the oil and drain on a double thickness of paper towels. Place the fish, skin side down, on a heated platter and set the head in its original position. Keep the fish warm in the oven.

    4. Set a 12-inch wok or 10-inch skillet over high heat for 30 seconds. Pour in 2 tablespoons of oil, swirl it about in the pan and heat for 30 seconds, turning the heat down if the oil smokes.

    5. Add the mushrooms, peas, carrot, onion, water chestnuts and garlic, and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the salt, then the vinegar, sugar, wine, soy sauce, catsup and stock, and bring to a boil. Stir the cornstarch mixture and add it.

    6. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are glazed. Pour over the fish and serve at once.

    To Serve: 4 to 6
    This recipe is also available in:
    Cuisine » Asia » China
    Main Ingredient » Fish » Bass
    Main Ingredient » Fish » Carp
    Main Ingredient » Fish » Pike
    Dish » Appetizers


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