It has always been my opinion that to become a good cook, one has to be confident about his skills and taste. And by that, I don’t mean professional training. No, not at all. Rather, I mean the ability to think outside the box, to never feel limited by the lack of access to certain ingredients and to never feel insecure for falling short of standards set by other people. In my opinion, one only needs to follow personal standards, not others’, AND to keep raising those standards as one grows and learns more.
It is a philosophy that I not only preach but also religiously follow. As a consequence, I rarely abide by generally accepted rules and formulas. For instance, although jam is normally spread on bread, I don’t find it strange to use jam as an ingredient for a sauce. While balsamic vinegar is widely regarded as an ingredient for salad dressing, I like using it as a braising liquid for meat. My daughter Sam has the same attitude. Just because a bottle says “salad dressing” doesn’t mean it can only go into a salad. She discovered long ago that tart salad dressings are also great as dipping sauces.
All that should give you a pretty good idea about the sauce for this dish — fried cubes of silken tofu and bangus (milkfish) belly fillets smothered with a sauce made with pineapple jam, mango ketchup, chili garlic sauce and sweet chili sauce. I normally cook only a cup of rice for Speedy and myself but, with this dish, Speedy felt we should have had more rice. It was so good.
- fish fillets, about 250 g.
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsps. of corn or tapioca starch
- 1 silken tofu, about 300 g.
- 2 c. of cooking oil for frying
- ¼ c. of pineapple jam
- ¼ c. of mango ketchup
- ¼ c. of sweet chili sauce
- 1 heaping tbsp. of chili garlic sauce
- chopped parsley (optional)
- Cut the fish fillets into ¾-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the starch to coat each piece well.
- Cut the tofu into half-inch cubes.
- Heat the cooking oil until wisps of smoke start to appear.
- Fry the tofu just until lightly browned along the edges. Scoop out and drain on a stack of paper towels.
- Reheat the oil. Fry the fish cubes until a crisp crust forms on the outside. Scoop out and drain on paper towels.
- Pour off the oil from the pan. Wipe the pan clean with paper towels. Pour in the pineapple jam, chili garlic sauce, mango ketchup and sweet chili sauce. Heat gently until thin and of pouring consistency. Taste and add salt to balance the flavors.
- Transfer the fish and tofu to a platter. Pour the sauce over and around them. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve the fish fillets and tofu with sweet chili pineapple mango sauce with rice.