It’s officially backyard barbecue season — or, at the very least, backyard grilling season (we’re sticklers). Combined with the likelihood of full-on lockdowns returning to the U.S., that means it’s time to get some cool ingredients in the kitchen and try new things. No more sourdough bread for a few days.
Our recommendation: Truly travel your tastebuds. Forget the failed idea of certain foods being “American” on the 4th and make something completely new. Like this Sumatran Crispy Fish Rendang recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s second season of Uncharted. In season two of the NatGeo show, Ramsay has traveled to Tasmania, India, Norway, Guyana, Lousiana, South Africa, and Indonesia. In each episode, Ramsay meets up with local experts, chefs, foragers, hunters, and even fishing crews.
In the Sumatra episode — which aired Sunday, June 28th — Ramsay and legendary chef and Indonesian food historian William Wongso break down a Crisp Fish Rendang. Having lived in Indonesian and traveled around Sumatra, I can say with authority: This is a dish you definitely want to try.
My recommendation here would be to skip frying the fish and instead throw it on the grill — just slather it in olive oil and salt first. You can easily follow this recipe with either whole tilapia or whole sea bream. Small white fish that are still whole are fairly interchangeable. Also, the ingredients on this list for the chili paste are fairly easy to find. If you can’t find “candlenut,” I’ve seen it supplemented with either macadamia or cashew in a pinch.
Check out the recipe below! Uncharted airs on NatGeo Sundays at 10/9c.
Crispy Fish Rendang
Yields: 1 whole fish, 4 servings
1 whole 2- to 3-lb white fish, scaled and gutted
FOR SPICE PASTE
- 10 shallots, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 10 large red chilis, chopped
- 2 tsp chopped ginger
- 4 tsp chopped galangal
- 4 tsp ground candlenut
- salt, to taste
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- zest of 1 lime
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups and 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup coconut cream, 24% fat content
FOR CRISPY FISH
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 2 tbsp sliced scallions
- In a blender, combine all spice paste ingredients except coconut cream.
- Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil to a wok. When hot, add spice paste and coconut cream. Stay close to it and continue to cook, allowing to caramelize. Remove from heat when paste is dark brown but not burnt. Set aside.
- In a separate wok, heat two cups vegetable oil.
- When oil is hot, be sure to dry off fish as much as possible. Score the skin of the fish with light hash marks and place in the hot oil. Fish will likely pop with any moisture, so be cautious and do not stand too close to fish for the first five minutes of frying.
- After 10 minutes, fish will be crispy and cooked through. Remove from wok and place on a wire resting rack. Season with salt and pepper.
- On a platter, place the crispy fish and top with spice paste. Garnish with sliced scallions and lime wedges, squeezing one lime wedge on fish directly.