My nephew bought me a Thai cookbook for Christmas, one I haven't seen before. It's called ... hold on ... The Little Thai Cookbook - and there's some great recipes in it. I love reading cookbooks so am thoroughly enjoying working my way through this one.
When I find any recipe in any cookbook I like the sound of, or that I've eaten before, I then think through if there's any changes I'd make or what else I could make with it.
So, with just a very few Tiniest Thai changes, this absolutely delicious crispy fish salad has shot to the top of my current home-alone favourites - when I'm cooking just for me, this is EXACTLY what I usually want to eat.
It's spicy + sour and crunchy + salty, full of flavour and texture
And the basic salad and dressing is so simple to adapt to other toppings if you're not in a crispy fish kinda mood.
I've made it with a chicken, prawn and red pepper topping, stir fried in a little soy sauce and also with prawn and squid.
I absolutely love hot and sour salads and hope you give this a try
So, crispy fish salad for one ... you'll need ..
a piece of white fish (I had cod)
1 tspn salt
1 garlic clove
1 red bird eye chilli (or more if you have milder chillies, or want it spicier!)
1/2-1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of one lime
1 tspn sugar
1/4 red onion, cut into chunks
2 spring onions, sliced
3 or 4 cherry tomatos, halved, or 1 tomato, chopped
1 carrot, julienned or diced
small handful each of fresh mint and coriander leaves, chopped
a tablespoon peanuts, chopped (or use other nuts, I toasted almond flakes today, but peanuts are best!)
Heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180C.
Rub the salt all over the fish and get all the other ingredients together.
Put the fish on a rack over a baking tray and pop in the oven for 20 mins.
While it cooks, start the dressing by roughly chopping the garlic and chilli then crushing into a paste with the mortar and pestle. Don't pulverise it but do be aware that you're going to be eating whatever sized bits of chilli and garlic you end up with, so adjust to your taste!
Add the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Chop and prepare all the salad ingredients and put into a big bowl.
Tip over half the salad dressing, stir or scrunch (with clean hands!) to combine - and set aside.
Take the fish out of the oven and flake with a fork, or with your hands, until it has the consistency of large breadcrumbs.
Pour quite a lot of oil into a wok and heat until a tiny piece of fish dropped in sizzles on hitting the oil.
Then add the fish 'breadcrumbs'. Leave to cook in the very hot oil for 30 seconds and then stir, and leave again.
Mine took longer to cook than I'd thought it would and actually I'll leave it longer next time as it's so good when it's really crispy!
Keep cooking and stirring (very carefully) then remove the fish with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper or strain into a bowl (and then dispose of the oil when it's cold).
Put the salad onto a plate, add the crispy fish (or other topping) and mix.
Pour the remainder of the dressing on top and mix again - before eating ...