I grew up having fish on Fridays in the spring and I was under the impression it was an exclusively Catholic tradition until I spent more and more time in various parts of the Midwest. It turns out that fried fish is popular all over and makes appearances on the Friday column of weekly menus all over and throughout the year. And while a traditional fish fry includes fried taters and coleslaw, at least, and pumpernickel bread and homemade desserts made by all the church ladies, if you're lucky, it can be fun to mix things up a bit now and again, especially as Lent closes for another year and Easter is just around the corner.
This fried fish meal swaps tater for steamed rice and gives the tender white fish a lightly seasoned cornstarch-based crust, a crown of fried and fresh onions, and a drizzle of an amazing sweetened soy sauce glaze. While there will always be cravings for creamy tartar sauce for me, this dish mixes things up just enough that I really could have a different kind of fried fish each Friday!
If you wanted to stretch the fish and seafood theme further, you could serve this dish with crab rangoons or shrimp spring rolls. If you wanted to be really fancy, you could even coat a few large prawns with the same cornstarch mixture and fry them alongside the fish. That's a pretty impressive fish fry!
- 1 lb. white bass fillets
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon pickling salt or other fine-grained salt
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 dashes ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
Cut the fish into bite sized pieces. Mix the cornstarch with the ginger, black pepper, and pickling salt to incorporate the seasonings evenly.
Coat the fish with the corn starch mixture. Set aside.
Prepare the red onion and scallions; set aside.
Mix the soy sauce (I used a very dark, thick soy sauce), water, sugar, sesame oil, and white pepper in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and make sure that the sugar dissolves.
Heat a non-stick skillet with the canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the thinly-sliced red onion and stir-fry until it turns brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and place in a small bowl; toss the onion with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture. Set aside.
Using same oil, pan fry the cornstarch-coated fish until both surfaces turn light brown. Remove the fully cooked fish carefully from the pan to avoid breaking or tearing it.
Serve the fish over steamed rice, topped with the fried onion and chopped scallions, and drizzled with the remaining soy sauce mixture.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes