Pan-fried fish stuffed with chilli paste (辣椒鱼) is my mum’s specialty. This is the first time I am featuring a recipe on this food blog which is not cooked by me – I was merely the photographer snapping photos of my mum in action. So my mum has the honour of being my first guest poster for my food blog. My mum is a great cook, even though she always claims that she is not really into cooking. All my mum’s recipes which I featured in my food blog such as sesame oil chicken, braised pork belly & long bean omelette are childhood favourites which I grew up eating. And they are really popular on my blog proving the saying that “姜还是老的辣” (literal meaning that older ginger is spicier; implying that the older generation is more experienced). Her recipes are always straightforward, unpretentious, usually with a few key ingredients, very homely and delicious – just like this dish. I learnt how to handle spicy foods at a very young age because my mum loves to add a lot of chilli padi in her cooking, like how she will add almost 10 chilli padi in a simple ginger and scallion pork to make it insanely hot. With this “training” for spicy foods so early in life, it’s natural that I love this chilli-stuffed fish because it’s hot and spicy.
|Place shallots, chilli padi and belacan in a blender. We actually place a bit too much shallots in this attempt so in the written recipe above, I halved the quantity which we think will be better.|
|Whizz till the chilli paste is well combined.|
|Make two slits along the back shoulder of the fish to form two deep pockets.|
|This is what the fish with the slited pockets on the back looks like. Dab the fish dry with a paper towel and rub some salt all over the skin.|
|Stuff the pockets with the chilli paste you prepared earlier. My mum said not to be greedy and over-stuff the fish or else they will spill out during frying.|
|Heat cooking oil in wok and when the oil is sufficiently hot, add the fish and shallow fry on both sides till golden brown.|
For all the past recipes, my mum gave me the instructions over the phone and she did not give any measurements for the ingredients because she never measures. She’ll say things such as “a bit of soy sauce, not too much”. She refuses to demonstrate them in person because they are in her opinion, “too simple”. But for this dish, she quite willingly came over to show me how it’s done because to her, it is more “intermediate level” than the other dishes. I don’t think it’s really difficult until the point of pan-frying it. I personally prefer eating steamed fish because it’s much easier to prepare and healthier. I absolutely hate frying fish because of the oil splatters. The maximum I’ll willing to go now is stir fried vegetables, which I took a while to overcome my phobia of stir frying veggies. Hopefully, I will master enough courage like my mum to venture into more dishes like this in future.
Feel free to adjust the chilli padi to suit your preferred heat level.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins