This dish is usually made with fish ‘steaks’, aka cutlets, but it is just as good with fillets or whole fish. The type of fish doesn’t really matter either as the luscious, spicy sauce is the thing, so it works equally well with, say, cod or salmon.
For the fish
2tbs plain flour
1tsp ground turmeric
¼tsp MSG or ½tbs chicken or vegetable bouillon
1 whole sea bream or sea bass, or 4 basa or catfish slices (sold frozen in Asian supermarkets)
120ml groundnut oil or other neutral-tasting oil, plus an extra 2tbs
For the sauce
4 medium onions, sliced thinly
²⁄³ standard tin of chopped tomatoes (about 135g)
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1tbs fish sauce
¼tsp MSG or 1tbs chicken or vegetable bouillon
For the garnish
2 finger chillies
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Mix the salt, flour, turmeric and MSG in a large dish, then add the fish. Turn the fish over in the seasonings, making sure it is thoroughly coated.
Heat the 120ml of oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until sizzling, then carefully add the fish. Fry for two to three minutes on each side. Remove the fish using a slotted spoon and set to one side on a dish. Discard the oil.
In the same wok, heat the remaining 2tbs of oil over a high heat and add the sauce ingredients. Fry for five minutes, tossing and stirring regularly. Turn the heat down to medium-high and continue to fry for another 10 minutes. Add the fish and the chillies, and toss gently in the sauce.
Dish up on a platter, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve with steamed rice.
• Recipe from Mandalay: Recipes and Tales from a Burmese Kitchen by MiMi Aye. Read the review here