Chinese-Style Crispy Fried Flounder

Chinese-Style Crispy Fried Flounder

CHINESE-STYLE CRISPY FRIED FLOUNDER

I grew up eating crispy fried flounder, a whole fish, in Chinese restaurants. “gaun jeen loong li” (Cantonese pronunciation) or “gan jian long li” (Mandarin pronunciation) is the Cantonese pronunciation of this dry fried flounder dish.

Even though the flounder is described as “dry fried,” it is actually shallow-fried to an ideal level of crispiness. Fishtails and fins are sometimes even eaten like a crispy fish chip by some (including myself).

I’ll show you how to get that trademark crispiness and the jelly-like section of the meat near the fin at home so you can make this meal yourself (similar to skate, if you have ever tried it). A sweet soy sauce created with some of the frying oil and plenty of fresh cilantro and scallions tops off the crispy fried flounder. A crispy fried founder, a complete fried fish, is a great way to serve a memorable occasion or a Chinese New Year feast.

BUYING A WHOLE FLOUNDER

What is the difference between a flounder and a sole? Let’s have a look at that now. The first thing to remember is that there are no grey soles (a delicacy in Hong Kong) in the waters around North America (summer flounder).

There isn’t much of a difference in flavor between fluke and flounder fillets and “filet of sole,” so don’t expect any surprises there.

The best-tasting fish can nearly always be traced back to its freshness. To get the maximum flavor out of this fried flounder dish, you’ll need to go deep-sea fishing to catch the fish of the day.

Local fish markets, Asian grocery stores, and supermarkets are your best bets for a high-quality flounder.

If you want to choose a fish that is as fresh as possible, how do you go about doing so? The first thing I notice about someone is their eyes. A good sign that you’ve struck it lucky is if the skies are crystal-clear. Look for bright red gills that are not too dark, have shiny wet skin, and have no fishy odor.

The fish should not leave any indentation when lightly pressed with your finger, as this is a crucial freshness test. Our guidelines will help you pick the freshest fish for your dinner table, but you must be patient and use your judgment.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g of whole flounder, sole or fluke
  • 160ml of canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons of Shaoxing wine
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of white pepper

SAUCE:

  • 3 tablespoons of oil you used to fry the flounder
  • 1 small roughly chopped handful cilantro
  • 1 finely julienned scallion
  • 1½ tablespoons of hot water
  • 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. The fish should first be patted dry on all sides using a paper towel. The fish should next be well covered in Shaoxing wine on all sides. Rub the flounder on both sides with a mixture of salt and white pepper.
  2. The fish should then be lightly dusted with cornstarch on both sides. I applied a consistent, light cornstarch coating to the fish by sifting it over both sides. You might need to use much more than three tablespoons of cornstarch to dredge the fish if you don’t have a sifter or fine-mesh strainer for this. You may also try patting the fish with your hands and then shaking off the extra.
  3. A very big frying pan or carbon steel wok should be heated over high heat until it just begins to smoke. After that, reduce the heat to medium-high and coat the outside of the wok with 2/3 cup of canola oil. Put your fish in the wok with care.
  4. This sized fish will require five to six minutes on each side. The wok should generate a good sizzle as you cook the fish, and the oil should boil. The flounder will quickly start to easily glide around the wok if you tilt the wok or pan, so the oil touches every area of the fish. In order to cook the fish evenly at this point, you will need to hold it with your wok spatula as you keep tilting the wok. Ensure that the fish head, tail, and side fins are all uniformly cooked as well. While collaboration is required for this process, it is not as difficult as it seems!
  5. The recipe for fried flounder asks for 2 3 cups of oil, but doubling it would yield tastier, crispier results and make frying the flounder much simpler. You will eventually eliminate all but a few teaspoons of the oil, so keep that in mind.
  6. With a wok spatula held perpendicular to the fish, gently pull up one side of the flounder to ensure it has cooked to an even golden brown. Simply keep turning consistently to turn it over when it’s ready. You should need two spatulas to do this because flounder is a big, awkward fish. To make flipping easier, tilt the wok up on the side you are flipping. If you are right-handed, tilt the wok’s left side up and flip the fish with your right hand over to the left. Continue frying for an additional five minutes, rotating the wok as necessary to ensure the edges are crisped up completely.
  7. Scoop or slide the flounder carefully from the wok to a big platter once it has been cooked on all sides. Before you proceed, you must decide how to show the flounder: should it be served light side up (the “bottom,” which skims the ocean floor), or dark side up (the “top” of the fish)? While many restaurants prefer to serve food with the lighter side facing up, I prefer to do the opposite. It sits slightly better on the plate and is the fish’s natural position.
  8. After plating the fish, pour the oil into a heat-resistant basin and clean your wok with a paper towel.
  9. Next, combine the sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine in a small bowl with two tablespoons of boiling water.
  10. Using a spoon, carefully skim three tablespoons of oil from the bowl you placed aside. Pour the oil back into the wok, which is now heated to a medium-high temperature. Pour the sauce mixture into the wok when it is barely smoking and stir until it comes to a boil before turning off the heat.
  11. With the help of the spatula, evenly distribute half of the sauce over the fish before garnishing it with chopped cilantro and finely julienned scallions. After you debone the fish, save the other half of the sauce. Alternatively, you can let your guests handle the bones on their own and serve themselves the sauce.
  12. Serve your freshly cooked, crispy flounder right away!

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