Shallow-Fried Masala Fish - Meen porichathu

While I love pretty much any Indian food, I find their fried fish to be something out of this world. I have actually heard people who had masala fried fish for the first time say that this is the best thing they have ever eaten! This South Indian style fried fish is very aromatic and flavourful, crunchy on the outside, but juicy inside, slightly tangy, with a nice kick from chillies and garnished with sweet caramelized onions. It goes well together in a meal with curries with gravy or can be served by itself with plain rice or green salad. You can use pomfret or any other flat fish as well as sardines. Do I really need to mention how excellent it is with cold beer...? =)

For 2 servings you will need:
4 small pomfrets or sardines or any flat fish, cleaned
1 medium blue onion, thinly sliced
a few wedges of lime/lemon
oil for frying
a handful of fresh corriander for garnishing, chopped (optional)

For fresh masala:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped (cut lengthwise and remove seeds for a milder version)
1 cm ginger root, peeled and chopped
10 curry leaves
10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
1/2 tsp 0f turmeric powder
2 tbsp of wine or cider vinegar
1 tsp of lime/lemon juice
salt to taste

1. Put all fresh masala ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend it well for a couple of minutes until you get a very smooth paste.

2. Using a very sharp knife, make a few shallow slashed along the whole length of the fish on both sides. Cut just enough to break the skin and cutting only slightly into the flesh.

3. Spread the fresh masala evenly over the fish on both sides and putting some of it inside as well. Let it marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and first fry the sliced onion on a very high flame until it browns, caramelizes and becomes crisp. Transfer the fried onion on a plate with paper towel and keep it aside.

5. Heat some more oil in a frying pan that has a lid. Very carefully place the fish into a pan, cover it and let it fry for about 5 minutes of a low flame. Turn it over once being careful to not break the fish and cook the other side till the skin is brown and the fish is cooked thoroughly (another 3-5 minutes).

6. Place the fried fish on a serving dish, sprinkle the caramelized onions on the top and garnish with lemon wedges. You can also sprinkle some fresh chopped corriander.


Source: "Curry. Fragrant dishes from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia"