Yesterday was suppose to be a ‘stay-at-home’ day, dealing with the usual things like (boring!) paperwork, but a friend arrived and wanted to go to Fort Cochin to buy some fish from our trusted vendor at the Chinese Nets and so I went with her since I too wanted to get some nice fresh ‘Karimeen’ for Jo.
This wonderful fresh water fish is also known as ‘Pearl Spot’ and is found mainly in the backwaters of Kerala. The area around the small town of Alappuzha (Alleppy) is regarded as the ‘tharavad’ (Family home) of this fish and it is such fun to watch the fishermen trying to catch this fish by just diving off their small boats quite close to the shores of the backwaters.
Karimeen is not a cheap fish, in fact it is regarded a bit of a luxury by most Keralites – a proper ‘Karimeen-Fry’ must never be amiss at any important family function, like in our home, a special treat for our two daughters, when they return from their respective Colleges in another state.
The majority of visitors to our state, may they be Indian or foreign, will head for any of the leading fish places to feast on either Karimeen Fry, Karimeen Pollichathu (wrapped in Plantain leaf and steamed) or Karimeen Moily/Mappas (cooked in thick coconut milk combined with many wonderful spices).
I have my fish cleaned by my vendor. At home I just wash and dry the Karimeen very well and with a sharp knife cut slashes across 4 times on both sides.
For 2 persons
2 Karimeen (despite the fact that some people will ask for ‘large size’ it is better to go for medium size, the size of the palm of your hand – tastes better, in fact!)
2 Tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste
½ tsp Turmeric powder
2 tsp black pepper powder
2 Tbsp red Chilly powder (or less)
1 ½-2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Oil (I use Vegetable oil, some people prefer Coconut oil)
Some Curry leaves (optional)
In a small bowl mix all the above spices into a thickish paste – if you want it to be more liquid just add a teaspoon or two of water.
Now rub this mixture all over your fish, inside as well as into those slits. Keep covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours for the Masala really to soak in.
When ready, heat oil in a frying pan, add your curry leaves and then the fish. Shallow fry on a medium to low heat for app. 10-15 minutes (depending on size), turn over and fry the other side.
When done, lift out carefully onto paper-towels to drain.
Serve and enjoy