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Crispy Squirrel Fish in Garlic Sauce

Fish and Seafood

Crispy Squirrel Fish in Garlic Sauce
1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds fish, left whole but gutted, the fish one such as sea bass
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
8 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup black or mushroom soy sauce
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
5 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with three tablespoons cold water
1/2 bunch scallions, washed and trimmed, and sliced on the diagonal
1. Scale, gut, and remove the gills of the fish. Be sure to cut it open straight up the middle to the gills. Then wash and dry it.
2. Next ‘squirrel’ the fish as follows: Using knife and pliers, first cut both sides of each back fin, then pull them out. Cut either side of the tail fin, and remove it the same way. Do likewise to the anal fin. Do not remove the two small fins just below the gills. Now make a slit at the top center of the fish. Cut to where the fins have been removed separating flesh from spine on both sides. Use a scissor, cut the backbone just above the tail and make another cut below the head, then remove the skeleton. What is left is a whole boneless fish that needs its head flattened and splayed out so it looks flounder-like.
3. Flour the fish and shake off any excess. Mix cornstarch with like amount of water, and dip the fish in this batter coating it thoroughly.
4. Heat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and fry the fish in this flattened position (it looks like a flying squirrel) about five minutes sliding head and tail sections under the oil until all is golden and crisp.
5. Mix broth, garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, and chili paste in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and keep stirring until thickened, then pour over the fish. Toss most of the scallions into the sauce just before pouring it, use the rest as decor on top of the fish. Serve.
Note: Before flouring the fish, one can cut the flesh but do be careful not to cut all the way through. Do so into one inch squares, then put it in the cornstarch batter and fry.

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