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Food Trip: Turning the usual to something interesting

23 April 2017

By Jo Campos

Since returning home for good in the Philippines, I have taken to cooking dinner for my big family of 10 and it is always a challenge deciding on what to serve everyday. I usually check the internet whenever I run out of ideas, or want to make my dishes look and taste more interesting. I adopt the same technique when we plan menus for clients when catering. It has always been fun trying to make something different out of the ordinary recipe.

A case in point is the all-time favorite, sweet-and-sour. This dish is usually done using either pork or chicken, and while these have remained the staple ingredients, there are healthier alternatives, like fish.

The recipe below has fish fillets as the main ingredient, but I further modified it a bit by adding some lychees, apple and mandarin segments for an Oriental refreshing fruity twist. Together, they have turned this dish into something healthier, tastier, and more appetizing.

Fruity Sweet and Sour Fish Fillets

2 lbs. tilapia, cod, halibut or any other whitefish (cut into 1" chunks)
1 large green pepper (cut into 1" chunks)
1 large tomato (cut into 1" chunks)
1 large onion (cut into 1" chunks)
1 can pineapple chunks (with juice)
1 small can lychees, drained
1 apple, diced
mandarin or orange segments
oil (for deep frying)

¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups flour
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups water

Sweet and sour sauce:
½ cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cooking Instructions:
Step 1: Toss fish with cornstarch in a bowl and coat well. In another bowl whisk together flour, 6 tablespoons of oil, baking powder, seasoning salt, and cayenne pepper. A little at a time, add 2 cups of water whisking until the batter has become smooth. Pour batter over the coated fish pieces and stir to coat.
Step 2: In a deep frying pan, fry fish pieces in batches for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven.
Step 3: In a wok heat about 1 tbsp of oil. Stir fry green pepper and onions for 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Step 4: To make sweet and sour sauce – In the wok mix vinegar, sugar, salt, orange juice, pineapple juice and ketchup. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/8 cup of juice, pour into the sauce and stir until sauce has thickened.  Add tomatoes, fruits and pineapple chunks to the sauce and heat.
Step 5: In a large serving dish mix fish pieces, sauce and green pepper and onions. Serve with white rice.

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