Friday, September 21, 2007

Crispy "Aromatic" Fish and Sweet Potato Pancakes

There's a story behind the "aromatic" fish.
When we lived in East Boston, there was a place near Orient Heights that did a fish called "Crispy Aromatic Fish." We never could understand the reasoning as the fish was neither crispy (at least not by the time it was delivered to Eagle Hill) nor aromatic-at least not more than any other fish. Still, "Soggy Stinky Fish" probably wouldn't have had too many takers, and in truth, it was pretty good.
It wasn't until shortly before we moved away that we finally dined-in at the establishment. The fish came to the table, and having been right out of the fryer was actually, crispy. That solved that mystery though to this day I still haven't a clue what made it aromatic.
My version is similar, but obviously not identical. I also improvised the vegetables by rummaging in the crisper bins again. I figured, after the "Evelyn Soup" earlier in the week, I had better treat this fried fish with a bit more respect and a healthy dose of garlic black bean paste. It was really quite good.
The sweet potatoes were also an improvisation that turned out quite well. I fried them in the same oil I used for the fish (I was soooo not going to dirty another frying pan) and it did not pick up any of the fish flavour.
You Will Need:
For the Sweet Potatoes-
1 very large sweet potato or yam
3-4 tablespoons + of flour
2 eggs
salt and pepper
oil for frying
Grate potato and place in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs and mix well. Add enough flour to make a batter consistency that will drop easily off a spoon.
Heat oil and fry in small batches (don't crowd them) letting them cool on a baking rack over a baking sheet (so they do not get soggy). Serve with sour cream.
For the fish:
Earlier in the day, fill a ziplock baggie with sliced-up vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, celery, green beans, etc. Make sure to add an onion or two and some finely diced ginger. Make a sauce (in a measuring cup) of 4 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic, 2 tablespoons garlic black bean paste, 5 tablespoons hoisan sauce and enough canola oil to bring it all to 3/4 cup. Pour it into the bag, seal and let sit at least six hours.
Take 1-2 pieces of a thick fish like cod or haddock and cut into cubes. Roll in flour that has been salted and peppered. Fry in hot fat until lightly browned. Drain. Begin cooking the vegetables. When they are just about finished, stir in the fish to get a coating of the sauce. Sprinkle generously with black sesame seeds and serve immediately.

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