Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Simple Khmer Stir-Fry ... With Lots and Lots of Ginger

Reading Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia I was irresistibly drawn to this recipe which they described as being one where the ginger is both a flavoring and a vegetable. Let's see ... about two cups of matchstick cut ginger. Oy veh! That would either kill you or cure you it seemed to me.

This I had to try.

It was absolutely delicious. Clearly it wouldn't do to serve it to those who didn't like ginger but the flavors balanced out so well that we never felt overwhelmed. Don't get me wrong. There was plenty of ginger and it was plenty hot ... but oh, so very good.

I also liked the fact that it used catfish. I like catfish ... both for the flavor and the low, low price compared to other fish.

Stir-Fried Fish with Ginger
[traey cha k'nye -- Cambodia]

1 pound fish fillets (catfish, snapper, or any other firm-fleshed fish)
1/2 pound ginger, preferably young ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
4 scallions, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver, sliced lengthwise in half and then cut into 2-inch lengths (I didn't have any on hand)
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Slice the fish fillets into strips about 2 inches long and less than 1/2 inch thick. Peel the ginger, then cut into fine matchstick-length julienne (this is most easily done by cutting thin slices, then stacking these to cut them into matchsticks.) You should have about 2 cups, loosely packed.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. (I would just use a big skillet if that's what you have.) Add the oil and, when it is hot, add the ginger.

When the ginger is starting to turn golden, after about 3 minutes, toss in the shallots. Stir-fry until the ginger is golden-brown, 2 to 4 minutes.

Toss in the scallions, reserving a few shreds for garnish, and stir-fry briefly, pressing the scallions against the hot wok to sear them.

Add the sliced fish and stir-fry gently for 1 minute, using your spatula to separate the slices and to expose them all to the hot wok.

Add the fish sauce, sugar, and salt, stir gently, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.

Add the lime juice, taste and adjust the seasonings if you wish, and turn out onto a platter. Garnish with the reserved scallion shreds and serve hot.

Serves: 4. Serve with rice, a clear soup, and a fresh tasting salad.

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