Fried Pomfret – Indian Style – I

During interactions with many North Indian friends, I find many are interested in trying out fish dishes at home, but they simply aren’t sure how to cook it. Most are quite comfortable with chicken and meat dishes, but with fish they’re like… pardon the pun, a fish out of water.This dish is easy to cook, simple to prepare and is quite fast – about 20 minutes or less from beginning to end.

First, get a fishing rod, line and hook. On locating a suitable water source… hmmm… perhaps we can skip that part. So, lets say we have a nice fresh pomfret lying on a plate in the kitchen.

Before we begin preparing it, lets quickly go over the purchasing procedure:

  1. Make sure it’s fresh – eyes should be shiny, the flesh should be firm and springy – on pressing with a finger, the flesh should spring back, the gills should not be very dark and as bright red as possible – this differs from fish to fish and finally, it shouldn’t smell ‘fishy’.
  2. When you’ve selected your fish, ask your fishmonger to just ‘trim and clean it’. He’ll take the head off or leave it on depending on what you want, trim the fins and make a slit on the lower side to remove the innards.
  3. Finally, you could ask him to score a couple of lines on both sides of the fish as you can see in the picture.

If you fish isn’t scored, cut a couple of lines on both sides of the fish. In a small bowl, mix equal proportions of salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder with a little water to make a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the fish and let it lie for about 10 minutes.

Heat some oil in a non stick pan and place the fish in it. First sear it on high heat and then let it cook, covered on a simmer for 5 minutes. Then raise to high heat, and sear the other side, again reduce and cook covered on a simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with onions and wedges of lemons.

PS: Cherie couldn’t get enough of it, so I’ve tagged this post as ‘Cooking for Kids’ as well. Also, make sure your pan is non-stick or use cooking spray. The skin is delicious and tends to stick to the pan if you’re not careful.

– Sid