Indian Finger Fish (Fish sticks)


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I grew up in a small coastal town, Tuticorin. My parents were busy doctors (still are..) and the earliest they would come home is 10 at night. It was our routine that we went out for dinner every Saturday night, and we always went to this particular restaurant called “Sugam”, coz’  it was the only restaurant that had most items in the menu still available at 10:45 p.m. ( Yeah, in our town, in the 80’s , night life ended in the early evening 🙂 ). As a child , there is not much to look forward to a late night dinner, as by then, hunger would have arrived and left and sleep was fast approaching. One of the few things that kept me awake and interested in dinner was the amazing “finger fish”  in that restaurant, crunchy on the outside and super juicy on the inside with the perfect blend of spices. That was my standard order every week. I will stop by the restaurant during my visit next month. I won’t be eating finger fish anymore, neverthless, I just can’t wait to relive the memories.

  • I am using Tilapia for this recipe. Any mid fish can be used. Clean and cut the fish fillets into finger shaped pieces. I used about three fillets today.

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  • Mix turmeric powder, chilli powder, black pepper, salt and garlic powder with a little water to make a paste. If you do not have garlic powder, you can use garlic paste.

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  • Marinate the fish with the paste and set aside for 30 mins.

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  • Beat an egg for the egg wash.

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  • Dip the fish pieces in egg wash and roll in bread crumbs. I prefer regular bread crumbs. Breading should be minimal, so I avoid panko.

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  • Prepare all the fish pieces this way.

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  • Heat oil for deep frying and fry the fish to golden brown. Once oil becomes hot enough for frying, lower the heat. If your fish sticks turn brown as soon as you drop them in the oil, it means the oil is too hot. The sticks should gradually turn from light brown to golden brown.

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  • As you know, fish cooks quickly. However, make sure it is done.

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  • Serve with ketchup. This is usually a big hit with kids.

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Fish Curry ( Chettinad style)


These days its quite easy to make fish curry by simply adding “fish curry masala” or some other instant powders and convince ourselves that “well, its not too different from what my grandma used to make ” 🙂 . It  is different from what grandma made. Here is the recipe for the traditional fish curry, definitely will be worthy of the efforts.

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Fish cleaned and cut and rubbed with turmeric powder and salt. (I have Tilapia here, Mackerel and King fish are better options.)

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shallots (or onions), tomatoes, garlic and curry leaves

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spice blend (Not taking any shortcuts today)
red chillies
coriander seeds
fennel
cumin
black pepper
raw rice (helps to thicken the curry)

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In a spoon of oil (I am using sesame oil – which enhances the flavor of this curry), fry the spices.

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Grind them with some curry leaves to a smooth paste.

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Dilute the masala and add tamarind and jaggery(vellam or brown sugar) to it. Add turmeric powder and salt to the mix and set aside.

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Add sesame oil to the pan and fry some mustard seeds. Sauté the onions, garlic and curry leaves.

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Sauté the tomatoes.

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when the tomatoes soften, add the masala.

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Let the curry boil and reduce.

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When its almost done , place the fish in the curry. reduce the heat, cover and cook without stirring.

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The fish will  cook in 5 mins , cover and set aside for 30 mins before serving.

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Serve with steamed rice. The curry tastes even better the next day ( there are movie songs written about the taste, if you won’t take my word for it 😉 )

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Fish in cocount curry


My hometown is a small fishing town in the southern tip of India, so my love for fish shouldn’t be a surprise. Nothing compares to the taste of freshly caught fish cooked within hours. I became a vegetarian few years back and I have to say it would have been impossible if I am still living in my hometown. This curry is a traditional recipe and brings back memories of my school days, sharing lunches with friends, I had a couple of friends whose moms made awesome versions of this curry 🙂

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Fish – cleaned , cut and rubbed with turmeric and salt. (I have Tilapia here)

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Tamarind water (Even after all these years of cooking I can’t rightly judge how much tamarind I will need. I usually make a good amount of tamarind water and add to the recipe as needed and save the rest in the fridge and try to use it within 4-5 days).

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chopped onions, diced tomatoes and a generous amount of curry leaves.

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In a pan, add 2tbsp of sesame oil. Fry 1 tsp of mustard seeds and 1/2 tsp of fenugreek.
Saute the onions and curry leaves.

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When the onions lightly brown, add :  2 tsp of turmeric powder and red chilli powder (according to your heat preference) directly to the oil. This will instantly cook the chilli powder and take the raw smell out of it.

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Once the oil separates, add the tomatoes.

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When the tomatoes soften, add the tamarind water.

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Add about a cup of water and salt. Allow this to boil and reduce a little bit (until the raw taste of tamarind goes away).

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Add the fish pieces and allow it to cook for 5 mins. That’s all it will take for the fish to cook.

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While the fish is cooking, we can make the coconut paste. You’ll need :
grated coconut – 3 tbsp.
chopped onions – 1 tbsp.
garlic – 2 cloves
cumin – 2 tsp
curry leaves – some
(If you like a little punch, you can also add 1 tsp of black pepper. )
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Grind them all with water to make a paste.
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Add the coconut paste to the fish curry, stir in without breaking the fish .
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Sprinkle some more curry leaves, cover with lid and simmer for 10 mins. Allow the curry to stay in the pan for at least 30 mins before transferring to the serving dish.
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Serve with rice. You can drizzle a tsp of sesame oil in the curry before serving. Fish, curry leaves and sesame oil are like soulmates, they work very well together 
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