I’ve begun working with fish only recently. Kishore couldn’t handle the taste or smell of fish the first 2 decades of our married life, and Kabir can only just about handle it now. Then Goa happened to us. While there, I’d be surprised to find Kishore enjoying the staple lunch of Goan fish-curry thali for many more days than I’d manage! Since then, I’ve been experimenting with fish at home. Most Indian preparations call for deep-frying of fish before adding it to gravies. Something I like to avoid doing to fish. Or use coconut for it. Much as I love coconut milk based curries, I like to keep my fish preparations largely healthy and yet tasteful. That’s where Kelly’s steamed Chinese fish preparations come in.
The appreciation for a Chinese preparation of fish follows our discovery of a Chinese restaurant in Gurgaon. Some months ago, we happened to notice this new restaurant on a Sector road. Later, we heard a bit about its owner Kelsang Tsering (also Kelly) from our friend Amit Kalra and decided to check it out. Our first meal there was a pleasant surprise and included a lemon-coriander chicken soup and chicken in hot-garlic sauce with hakka noodles. Everything about the place and the food looked clean–including the non-greasy noodles. We started going there regularly as also began bullying our friends to meet us there to sample Kelly’s food. It was probably on our second visit that Kelly introduced us to his steamed fish in a ginger-garlic sauce which had us asking for it on almost all our subsequent visits…
Then some weeks ago, I urged Kelly on the phone to share its recipe. I followed a vague order of those instructions about thrice at home and recently, requested Kelly to allow me a peek in his Kitchen to watch his cook make it. Kelly was kind enough to oblige. On the visit, the cook got creative and prepared 2 versions of it. One was the earlier ginger-garlic recipe and largely red in colour. The new one was done in a black-pepper sauce and looked brownish. And my, this new variation was even more enjoyable and now something to eat there regularly. This post is to share the ginger-garlic recipe so people can try it at home, and then go over to Kelly’s restaurant Hachi ba for the black-pepper version. Or, sample both on multiple visits…
Boneless fish fillet: 200 gms thinly sliced in
about 1.5″ big squarish pieces.
Marinade: 1 tablespoon plain flour+
1 tsp salt+tsp white pepper+2 tsps oil+
1 tsp crushed garlic+1 tsp ginger juice
Tomato: 1 finely chopped
Onion: 1 finely chopped
Ginger: 1 tablespoon finely chopped
Garlic: 1 tablespoon finely chopped
Tomato sauce: 2 tablespoons
Tomato puree: 1 tablespoon
Red chilli paste*: 2 tsps
Corn flour: 2 tsps mixed with 3/4 cup water
Salt: to taste
Oil: 1 tablespoon
Spring Onion: 1 chopped in 2″ long slanted pieces
White Vinegar: 1 tsp
Marinate fish slices in the listed items for 10 min.
Bring about 2-3 cups of water to boil in a wok and add the fish slices while gently separating them from each other but taking care to not break them. It’ll take about a minute for fish to firm up. Take it out then and let the pieces drain in a colander.
Empty out the wok, let it dry on the flame and add 1 tablespoon of oil in it.
As it heats up in 30 sec, add chopped onion/tomato/ginger-garlic one after the other. Stir fry on a medium to high flame to combine them over 1 minute.
Add the next 3 sauce ingredients and stir them till the onion+tomato mix acquires them well–1 minute. Add salt.
Then add corn flour mixed with water and keep stirring till the added water thickens somewhat and mixes with other ingredients-1 minute.
Finely, add boiled fish** slices to the sauce. Fold the fish in the sauce in a way that it doesn’t break and the sauce covers the slices well. Add spring onions and after a quick toss, remove the fish to a dish.
It’s ready to be eaten on its own or with a bit of steamed rice.
* Kelly uses 2 kinds of chilli sauces and his own tomato sauce. I use Fun Foods chilli garlic paste but 2 kinds of tomato sauces out of branded products.
** This recipe originally uses steamed fish. Boiling the fish is a variation and faster than steaming it.