Crispy Saba with Garlic Ginger Sauce

Saba is a fish I've been curious about for some time, but never ventured to cook before.  I was never sure what I would do with it.  It looks meaty, but its striped silvery skin threw me off.  Was it herring like?  Thick skinned?  Too fishy?  Would the flesh be dry and mushy or moist and flakey?  Today, as I perused the fish counter looking for a whole fish to fry, I was pointed towards Saba, also known as Mackerel.  Good for frying and flakey too.  We should have a winner here.

They had cleaned and filleted the fish for me, so I only had to make a few shallow slanted cuts on the skin side of the fish.  Then I  marinated the fish in a little rice wine, ginger and salt for about 30 minutes.  I then drained the fish and coated it with tempura flour.  In a shallow but curved pan, put about 2 cups of canola or peanut oil.  Heat to 350f and fry the fish, skin side down.  While frying use a large spoon to ladle the hot oil over the top of the fish if it is not fully submerged in the oil.  Fry until golden and crispy.  Remove from oil, drain, and place into a shallow dish.

For the sauce:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
3 scallions, sliced
sprinkle of ground white pepper
freshly ground black pepper
corn starch and water mixture to use as a thickening agent - I don't take measurement on this, just mix enough corn starch with a bit of water to make it into a white opaque liquid, but not paste.  When using, drizzle a little at a time until you achieve the thickness in the sauce you want.  In a Chinese kitchen or restaurant, you will find a large mixture of this to use whenever needed.  The corn starch settles to the bottom, so mixing before use is needed.

Heat a little bit of oil in your wok and add in garlic and ginger until fragrant.  Add in the remainder of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for a few minutes and then thicken sauce slightly with the corn starch mixture.  Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

The fish was firm, held together well in the frying, but I would not call it flakey.  It was delicious, but definitely not the texture I had in mind.   It was more dense and compact than what I wanted.  I would keep the sauce, switch out the fish.


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