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Crunchy Caramelised Fish with Lemon Chilli and Garlic

(From Meryl) Every now and again, I crave home food and fish is a big part of that. At home, we eat some kind of fish fry/curry almost everyday. My mom’s crispy, fried sardines and anchovies are a staple at dinner every night. The red, spicy fish curry that my father insists on having with tapioca or rice with hot tea. (Yes, TEA and Fish!!) My aunt’s famous pickled fish. In my opinion, there is never a time or reason to not have fish.

Craving a little home food, earlier this week we went to the Char Bangla market to buy some fish. We looked around, hemming and hawing, wondering what to buy and settled on surmai (kingfish) and some tiny fish that we still don’t know the name of. The surmai was made into a lovely Mallu fish curry to satisfy our craving. The success of an online fish campaign saw the tiny fish turn into some yummy tapas, satisfying Bombay Chowparty’s craving for experimental, fun food.

Its sweet, salty and spicy and unlike any fish preparation I have had. Try the Crunchy Fish with a Lemon Chilli Caramel.


Crunchy Tiny Fish with a Lemon Garlic Chilli Caramel

Now that we have a Bonafide mallu in the house, fish is starting to feature more and more often on the menu. This seems to work well with the stay healthy plan (don’t snigger…I can say that even though this post is about deep fried fish caramelised in plenty of sugar. Could have been worse you know) and offers a relatively new playing field as well for me. Trying to escape the fish mania, I was hoping to find new ideas through dialogue with some non-fish crazed folk on facebook – only to be accosted by the frantic-fans of fishdom there too. Finally giving in, and having already done the quintessential mallu meen vevichathu, the bong macher jhol, a pan seared version with brown butter and capers and an oriental steamed one with sesame, ginger and soy in the recent past, I settled on this one. Crisp, sweet and zingy, this one was inspired by tapas but worked its way towards the orient as we worked..


  • 1 cup sifted plain flour (I suspect rice flour would result in a yet better result)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 450g small fish (anchovies, whitebait… we found some tiny fish at the four Bungalow market that worked brilliantly for this)
  •  vegetable oil for frying
  • 7-8 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • chillie flakes – 2 t or more as desired
  • Juice of 1-2 lemon
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • spring onions, trimmed, finely sliced

Preparation method

  1. Sprinkle he fish with salt and pepper generously.
  2. Sprinkle the flour onto a plate and season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dredge the damp fish in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok/kadhai over a medium to high heat. Add the flour-coated whitebait and stir fry for 1-2 minutes on each side till cooked through. Remove the whitebait from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside on a warm plate.
  4. Return the wok to the heat, add the sugar , garlic. chilli flakes and soy sauce and heat on medium heat without stirring until the sugar melts and the mixture caramelises.
  5. Once the mixture caramelises, add the fish to the wok and stir fry till well coated
  6. Add the spring onions and lemon juice and continue stir frying
  7. Serve immediately
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am cooking this recipe this weekend. thank you 🙂


    September 5, 2012

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