I’ve seen it anywhere from something resembling savory fruit cocktail with chicken in it, to what I’m absolutely sure was cherry pie filling with meat.
Here’s the thing – by and large, “Sweet and Sour anything” in almost every Asian food establishment is , well… dreadful.
The sauce is gloppy… and red, the vegetables are in much too large of chunks to be easily managed, the fried coating on the meat turns spongy when it hits the sauce, or there’s pineapple (ergh) in it. Not that I dislike pineapple, I just don’t want something that’s already too sweet having yet another sweet / sharp component it the mix.
So, what’s a fella to do? He puts on his big boy apron and makes his very own.
A couple of things you’ll notice about the recipe –
The coating for the fried fish is a dry coat. I’ve found it works best when adding the cooked protein back to the sauce to keep the fish somewhat crispy.
The sauce isn’t red, on purpose. I think we can dispense with artificial food coloring in our diet these days. We’re also using the “Soy Free soy sauce ” recipe from HERE – explanations as to why are detailed on that and the other referenced article.
Lastly, I’ve used a bottled sweet chili sauce – the one I like is Jufran Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, because it is soy-free. But feel free to use whatever one you like – or make your own… it’s no smoke up my shirt either way.
Sweet and Sour Fish
Serves 2 (with leftovers) / or 4 (no leftovers)
For the Fish:
1 Pound Firm White Fish – Cut into 1″ cubes (Any firm fish will do. I’ve actually used Roughie because it was what I had on hand. But Jack, Cod, Snapper would work just as well. And yes, you could even use Tilapia… if someone was holding a gun to your head)
1/2 Cup Self rising Flour
1/2 Cup Corn Starch
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
1 Cup Canola Oil
Deep Skillet for frying
Large Zipper Bag
For the Dish:
1 Cup Large Diced Mixed Sweet Peppers
1/2 Cup Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Large White Onion – Diced
2 Scallions – Cut into 1″ pieces
1 Carrot – Cut into Medallions
1 Rib Celery – Sliced
1/4 Cup Bamboo Shoots (that’s 1 small can, drained)
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 Cup Soy-Free Sauce (see above for the recipe)
1/4 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
Wok, or large deep-sided skillet
Place the flour, starch, 5 spice, and salt into the zipper bag and shake well to combine
Add the cubed fish, seal and shake again to completely coat every piece. Remove from the bag and knock off any excess coating
Heat the oil to medium high and fry the fish in small batches – turning frequently to lightly brown on every side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the wok on high heat – starting with the carrots and onions, add each of the vegetables in 30 second intervals until everything is in the wok
Add the Soy Free sauce (if you are using REAL soy sauce, only use 2 tablespoons of the real stuff), and toss all the vegetables to combine,.
Push the vegetables to one side and add the chili sauce and juices. Continue cooking on high until the sauce begins to thicken, add the drained fish back to the pan and fold everything together coating fish and vegetables in the thickened sauce.
Remove from the heat and serve with your favorite steamed rice.