Crispy fried whitebait coated in a luscious salted egg yolk sauce is full-on richness, but it is worth the labour involved.
I double-fry the whitebait for a crispier texture and it holds up fairly well even when smothered in the thick sauce.
Chilli padi gives it an edge and keeps the sauce from being overly cloying.
• Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo
• Follow Straits Times Food on Instagram and Facebook @straitstimesfood
CRISPY WHITEBAIT WITH SALTED EGG YOLK SAUCE
300g fresh whitebait
2 drops of Chinese rose wine
2 Tbs Shaoxing wine
½ tsp salt
2 Tbs cornflour
1 Tbs potato starch
½ Tbs rice flour
2 sprigs of curry leaves, stems
330ml cooking oil (for deep-frying)
30g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
10 cooked salted egg yolks (150g), finely minced
2 chilli padi, finely sliced
1. Place the whitebait in a deep dish. Add the Chinese rose wine, Shaoxing wine and ¼ tsp of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate for an hour in the fridge.
2. In a bowl, mix the cornflour, potato starch, rice flour and water. Add this to the whitebait and gently mix through so each whitebait is coated in the batter.
3. Strip the curry leaves off the stems. Ensure the leaves are thoroughly dry.
4. In a wok, heat 50ml oil. Over medium-low heat, fry the curry leaves for 30 seconds until they turn emerald green and remove them from the wok immediately.
5. Place curry leaves on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.
6. Add 250ml oil into the wok on medium heat.
7. Gently place the whitebait, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry in batches of five or six to prevent the whitebait from sticking together.
8. Fry until the whitebait floats up in the oil and turns golden yellow. Place the fried whitebait on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
9. As you are frying, use a fine mesh oil skimmer to skim off loose bits of fried batter.
10. After frying the whitebait, heat the oil to medium heat. Briefly deep-fry the whitebait a second time for a crispier texture.
11. Place the whitebait on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Discard used oil.
12. In a clean wok, heat 30ml oil on medium-low heat. Add the butter.
13. Once the butter melts, add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant.
14. Lower the heat and add the salted egg yolks and chilli padi.
15. Stir and allow the mixture to cook until it turns foamy.
16. Add the fried whitebait. Stir-fry briefly until the whitebait is coated in the salted egg yolk mixture.
17. Season with ¼ tsp of salt.
18. Transfer the whitebait onto a serving dish and garnish with the fried curry leaves. Serve immediately.