Sweet and sour sauce is a classic. But did you know that there are so many ways to make the sauce? Would you believe me if I told you that there is even a no-cook version of sweet and sour sauce?
Here is a recipe for a great tilapia dish that can be served as a finger food for the beer drinkers (was there ever a shortage of beer drinkers between Christmas and New Year?). But not only is it great as a pulutan, served with rice, kids will love them too.
You can fry the fish fritters and prepare the sauce ahead of time, then simply reheat the fish in the oven before pouring the sauce over them.
The yield from this recipe, if served as a main dish, is good for 4-5 persons.
- 800 grams tilapia fillets (you may also use any firm, fleshy fish but tilapia is the most reasonably priced)
- 1 cup honey
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon or kalamansi juice how much depends on whether you want the sourness or the sweetness to dominate
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup fine bread crumbs
- 3 to 4 cup vegetable cooking oil
- lemon slices
- a few sprigs of fresh mint leaves
The first step is the most important as this will ensure that the bread crumbs will stick to the fish. PAT THE FISH DRY WITH ABSORBENT KITCHEN TOWELS. Then, cut the tilapia fillets into strips, about half an inch wide and three inches long. Season with salt and pepper, cover and set aside while preparing the sauce.
Meanwhile, start heating the cooking oil.
There’s only one step in making the sauce — mix together the honey and lemon juice. No cooking needed; no need to add any thickener like cornstarch either.
Although the mint leaves are meant as a garnish, they do so much more than add color to the dish. The cool and fresh flavor of mint leaves makes the sauce come alive even more. You may opt to omit the mint leaves altogether although I wish you wouldn’t. If mint leaves are not available, you can substitute cilantro (wansuy).
Make sure that the cooking oil is hot enough before frying the fish. I don’t use a thermometer but a sure sign that the cooking oil has reached the correct temperature is when it starts to smoke. Not profusely, mind you. Profusely smoking cooking oil will burn the bread crumbs in seconds. You want the cooking oil to just show visible signs of smoke.
Pour the beaten egg over the seasoned fish strips. Mix to coat each piece well. Dredge each strip of fish in bread crumbs, shake off the excess and deep fry in hot oil. Do this in batches. I fried 10 fish strips at a time to make sure that I didn’t overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will make the temperature of the oil drop and that will make your fish soggy. It will only take about a minute for the fish to cook. The moment they turn golden brown, scoop them out of the oil and drain on paper towels or place on a wire strainer and allow any excess oil to drip off.
When the fish is done, arrange on a serving platter. If you’re not serving them at once, ALLOW TO COOL and place in a tightly covered container. To reheat and still maintain the crispiness, arrange on baking tray IN A SINGLE LAYER and place in a VERY HOT (180oC is fine) and PREHEATED oven for one and a half minutes flat. Then, transfer to a serving platter. Pour the sauce over the fish.
Garnish with lemon slices and sprinkle the mint leaves over the fish and lemon.