Thai Three-Flavor Fish (Pla Sam Rot)
1 whole 1-lb. branzino
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
8 red and green Thai chilies
4 garlic cloves
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. Lee tamarind concentrate
½ 50 g. palm sugar cake (or 25 g. granulated palm sugar)
2 Tbsp. Squid brand fish sauce
½ cup whole Thai sweet basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a rack atop a baking sheet.
• Cut 3 or 4 slashes into each side of the fish.
• Preheat 2 cups vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, just below smoking temperature. Hold the fish by the tail and carefully slide into the oil. Deep-fry until crispy, about 5 minutes on each side. Place the fish on the rack to drain and keep warm in the oven.
• Discard the used cooking oil and wipe out the wok. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok over medium heat.
• Add the chilies and garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the water, tamarind and palm sugar and stir until everything dissolves. Add the fish sauce, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the basil and stir to combine.
• To serve, place the fried fish on a large plate and top with the sauce. Garnish with more sweet basil. Serve with jasmine rice.