The traditional way of cooking sweet and sour fish is to use large fish, dredge it in starch, deep fry it until crisp, then pour the sweet and sour sauce over it. This version of sweet and sour fish has no frying involved. Small bisugo (Threadfin bream) about four inches long from head to tail are pressure cooked with the ingredients for sweet and sour sauce until every part of the fish — including bones, head and tail — is tender and edible. Yes, sardines style. The minimal amount of liquid and the long cooking time allows the sugar and shallots to caramelize, turning the cooking liquid into amber.
This is the third pressure-cooked fish recipe in this blog. The first, the sardine-style bangus (milkfish) in tomato sauce, was published way back in 2003. The second, the pressure cooker salay-ginto (yellowstripe scad) with coconut milk was published a couple of months ago.
Why the long interval between the two? It took time finding a replacement for the pressure cooker’s rubber sealing ring. But now that the pressure cooker is in prime condition once more, I want to do a lot more sardine-style pressure-cooked fish dishes. They are so tasty, so economical and so easy to make.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 2 bird’s eye chilies chopped
- 500 grams small fish (I used Threadfin bream a.k.a. bisugo), about 6 to 8 pieces, each no more than four inches long
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/3 to 1/2 cups tsugar depending on how you like your sweet and sour sauce
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- sliced scallions for garnish
Pour the oil into the pressure cooker and heat. Saute the garlic, shallots, ginger and chilis just until fragrant.
Turn off the heat. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the sautéed vegetables.
In a bowl, stir the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together with one and one-half cups of water. Pour into the pressure cooker with the fish.
Throw in the bay leaves.
Seal the pressure cooker. Turn on the stove on its highest setting. When the valve starts to turn, set the heat to the lowest setting and count 90 minutes.
After 90 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for about 10 minutes to allow the pressure in the cooker to dissipate.
Unlock the pressure cooker top and voila! Sweet and sour fish with every bit edible. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.
Speedy and I had the sweet and sour pressure-cooked sweet and sour fish with arroz verde last night. The recipe for the arroz verde coming up.