I really like the way ocean perch turns out in the fryer. We’ve tried redbanded and other rockfish, we’ve tried bream, but perch is the best. It’s flakey and always stays nice and moist. Perch taste best at 1½ to 2 pounds, and sourcing that size is easy. They’re fished close by and are readily available, so my access is good—I can go down to the market and look at the fish instead of ordering it on the phone. And it’s sustainable, as long as it’s line-caught and from a good source. —J.W.
Dipping sauce (tosa joyu):
- 50 ml (¼ cup) Japanese soy sauce
- 50 ml (¼ cup) mirin
- 50 ml (¼ cup) sake
- 2 cm (1 inch) piece kombu
- 10 g (about ¾ cup) katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
- 250 ml (1 cup) cold filtered soft water
- 10 g (about ½ cup) katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
- 8 cm (3 inch) piece kombu
- Japanese soy sauce (preferably white)
- 1 whole ocean perch, cleaned and patted dry, about 1 kg (2 lbs)
- 500 g (1 lb) Japanese potato starch
- 4L (4 quarts) vegetable oil, for frying
- 50 ml (¼ cup) freshly grated Japanese daikon, drained
- 50 ml (¼ cup) yuzu, lime or lemon juice (or some combination thereof)
For the tosa joyu, combine soy, mirin, sake and 50 ml (¼ cup) water in a saucepan. Add kombu and place on medium heat until mixture begins to simmer. Reduce to lowest possible heat. Cook for 30 minutes, and strain into a bowl or non-reactive heat-proof container. Stir in katsuobushi, cover and set aside on countertop overnight. Strain and reserve.
To make the dashi, combine water and kombu in a small saucepan on medium heat and bring to a bare simmer. Remove kombu, add katsuobushi and cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and reserve.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large Dutch oven to 175°C (350°F).
Score flanks of fish to the bone in a diamond (criss-cross) pattern. Dredge in starch, shake off excess and transfer carefully to the deep-fryer until bronzed, crisp and cooked through—about 7 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season.
While the fish is resting, finish the sauce: combine the tosa joyu with 3 tbsp of the dashi and the fresh citrus juice, and stir. Mound daikon at the centre of a serving bowl, and flood with the dipping sauce. Transfer fish to a platter and serve.
Photography courtesy of kissa tanto
The exotic spices and residual sugar in this wine enhance the gorgeous spice and salty aspects of this dish.
For more info on these and other fine wines, go to Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits.