The sauce is a mixture of freshly squeezed lime (lemon may be substituted) and orange juices, lime and orange zests, ginger, chilies, sugar, salt, water and just a little starch. Boil them together before you fry the fish so that it’s nice and thick and ready to be drizzled over the crispy fish.
The fish is cooked tempura-style. Starch and flour are stirred with water and ice to make the batter. An optional but highly recommended addition is chopped herbs. If you’ve never cooked tempura and you need a visual guide, see the photos in the ebi tempura recipe.
The battered fish requires a very short cooking time. If the temperature of the oil is right, the coating should turn lightly golden and crisp in less than three minutes by which time the fish should be cooked through.
As an added precaution to ensure that the batter turns crisp without soaking up too much oil and to prevent the fish from drying out with overcooking, cook the fish in batches. They should float in the oil freely without sticking to one another.
Crispy fish fillets with lime orange sauce
- ½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 bird’s eye chilies finely chopped (or use chili flakes)
- ¾ to 1 cup sugar depending on how sweet or tart the orange juice is
- 1 pinch salt
- ¼ teaspoon lime zest plus more to garnish
- ¼ teaspoon orange zest plus more to garnish
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch
Make the lime orange sauce
- In a thick bottomed pan, pour in the juices.
- Add the sugar, salt, ginger, chilies, lime zest and orange zest.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until reduced and slightly thickened, about ten minutes.
- If the sauce is not thick enough for you, disperse a tablespoonful of starch in two tablespoonfuls of water, add to the sauce, stir and continue boiling until thickened.
- Set aside.
Cook the fish
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan until wisps of smoke start to appear.
- In a wide shallow bowl, place about half a cup of starch.
- In a large mixing bowl, place half a cup of flour, a cup of starch and the ice cubes. Pour in about one-fourth cup of water. Add the chopped herbs. Mix lightly. The batter should not be too thick but thick enough to coat the fish pieces. Add more water if the batter is too thick.
- Holding a piece of fish fillet by the edge, dredge in flour then dip in batter until well coated.
- Carefully drop into the hot oil.
- Repeat and cook the fish in batches of eight to twelve.
- If the batter thins out before all the fish have been fried (it will as the ice cubes melt), add more starch and flour, tablespoonful by tablespoonful, and keeping the 1:2 proportion.
- As each piece of fish cooks, pick up with kitchen tongs and transfer to a strainer or a plate lines with kitchen paper.
- To serve, place the fish fillets on a plate, drizzle some sauce over them, sprinkle with grated lemon or lime and orange zests.
- Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.