Andrea Burgener runs popular Johannesburg restaurant The Leopard. Her fish recipe is perfect dinner party fare designed to make an entrance
RECIPE CRISP-FRIED FISH WITH PINEAPPLE AND GRANADILLA CHILLI SAUCE
FOR THE SAUCE
1 litre pineapple juice
1 cup cider or rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tot dark rum
1 tbsp ginger, sliced
1.5 cups granadilla pulp
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 small pineapple, cut into wedges
2 sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
Salt, to taste
FOR THE FISH
1 large (about 1.5kg) or 2 medium linefish, descaled only ( fins and tail left on) Handful of coarse salt Cornflour, for dredging Vegetable oil, for deep-frying – enough to half fill a wok (in which the fish fits comfortably) Jasmine rice, to serve
Method Put all the sauce ingredients into a pot with enough room for some bubbling up, and simmer away until reduced to a thin syrup. Keep it warm, but there is no need for it to be boiling when you apply it to the sh. What is important is that the sh is still hot this way, it seems to soak up some of the syrupy sauce, much as a hot koeksister does.
A wok is the best way to deep-fry a large fish the contour holds the thick body of the sh; the head and tail peep out and get less oil, and cook more slowly. If you don't have one, ask the fish-monger to cut the fish into thick steaks so that you retain the benefits of the skin and bones. You can also do this recipe with chunks of fish fillet, skin on or off. Essentially, this produces amped up sweet-and-sour fish nuggets. This way, you can deep fry the fish in pretty much any container. Slash the sh deeply, diagonally, on both sides. Apply salt to the fish and leave for 30 minutes. Wipe all the salt off (rinse it if you need to, then pat dry). Dredge the fish in the cornflour. To do this, put the corn our into a plastic bag with the fish and toss together, then remote excess cornflour; this makes the least mess and uses the least corn our. Deep-fry the fish, turning it over carefully when you udge it to be half done. When browned on both sides and the flesh is opaque and comes away from the bone at the thickest part, the fish is done. Don't fry it for a second longer.
Lift it from the oil using a sturdy drainer/lifter, blot with kitchen paper, transfer to an enormous platter and, while still hot, pour the syrupy sauce over it. Serve immediately, with plain steamed rice alongside short grain or jasmine, never parboiled.