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Thai-Style Snapper

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Combining the classic Thai flavours of coriander, chilli, garlic, ginger, tamarind and fish sauce, this deep-fried snapper dish comes from a new book celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Adelaide Central Market.

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Launched this month, Adelaide Central Market: Stories, people & recipes, by Fiona Roberts and Katie Spain, features stories about market traders past and present, as well as seasonal recipes from stallholders, producers and chefs.

This recipe, from the summer section, was provided by Justin Cicolella of JG Cicolella Fisheries in the Gulf of St Vincent, who writes:

My family has been supplying traders at the market for three generations from Port Wakefield. We fish in the Gulf of St Vincent, where the snapper enjoy warm waters and gain excellent condition from their enviable diet of blue swimmer crabs and king prawns!

From 1 November to 15 December each year the fishery is closed due to the spawning season, but the rest of the year it’s open, with the peak season for Gulf of St Vincent being March to May. It’s a requirement for snapper to be line caught and each fisherman has a limit of 350kg per 24 hours.

At home we enjoy eating snapper deep-fried for its crispy texture; it also captures the sweet, delicate and succulent qualities of the fish. Another family favourite is snapper cutlets, where the fish is put through a bandsaw and cut into cutlets, dusted in seasoned flour and barbecued.

When I was living down in Adelaide a few years back, a group of friends and I would meet for lunch at the market every Thursday, as the variety of choice is immense and its central location made it convenient for everyone.

Thai-Style Snapper

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

 Sauce:
2 coriander roots, washed and roughly chopped
3 long red chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 red shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup (85g) tamarind paste
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Snapper
½ litre vegetable oil, to deep-fry
800g to 1kg whole snapper, cleaned, rinsed and dried
½ cup (100g) fine rice flour

To serve
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
¼ cup (25g) fried shallots
½ cup coriander leaves
Juice of 1 lime

Method

For the sauce, place coriander root, chilli, garlic, ginger, shallots and oil in a food processor and pulse ingredients to a smooth paste.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add paste and cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add remaining ingredients with 1/3 cup (80ml) water, stirring to combine. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until reduced by a third. Remove from heat and check balance, adjusting accordingly so the sauce is sweet, sour, hot and salty. Set aside for later.

For the snapper, heat oil in a wok over high heat, about a third full, until a piece of bread sizzles and becomes golden. Evenly coat the fish in the rice flour, removing any excess. Carefully slide the fish into the hot oil and cook for 5 minutes each side or until skin is crispy and fish is just cooked.

To serve, place half the sauce down the centre of a platter, place the cooked fish on top and spoon the remaining sauce over the fish. Garnish with chilli, spring onions, fried shallots, coriander leaves and lime juice.

Recipe and image from Adelaide Central Market: Stories, people & recipes, by Fiona Roberts and Katie Spain, $79.95, published by Wakefield Press.

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