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Deep-fried Tenggiri Fish

Deep fried Tenggiri Fish
Childhood favourite: Deep-fried Tenggiri Fish

I grew up on these deep fried Tenggiri fish. It is a common fish in South East Asia cooking, and besides being known as Tenggiri, my mum refers to it more often as “ma jia” (in Chinese) or “beh ga” in Hokkein. For those who reside out of Asia, the fish may be more commonly known as Spanish mackerel. Growing up, there are not many fish I liked because I find them all fishy (I’m not much of an adventurous eater back then), but this fish is an exception because it is naturally sweet and not fishy at all. The bones are relatively large and few, so they are a little less cumbersome than other fish to eat. I remember enjoying it with rice or porridge. Looking back, I realised my mum’s meals are wholesome, unpretentious, and super yummy. So naturally, when I tried to re-create this now in my kitchen, I kept the recipe really minimalistic. For the ingredients, there are just three – fish, salt and oil. And to cook it, just heat the oil and fry the fish fillets (deep fry or pan fry) till golden brown. In this simple recipe, there are no excessive marinade, seasonings or ingredients so no risk of complicating or masking the natural good taste of the fish.

Deep fried Tenggiri Fish

How to know if your fish has been deep fried to perfection? A nicely fried Tenggiri fish is crispy to the bite. I can hear the delightful ‘crunch’ as I sink my teeth into the fish, and the sound is music to my ears. The best part is, the fish stays crunchy even a few hours after it has been fried.

– Tenggiri fish steaks (cut cross-section), rinsed & patted dry
– vegetable cooking oil (example canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil)
– sea salt

Additional tools
– kitchen tongs (to hold the fish to check its progress)

1. Sprinkle a bit of salt over both sides of the fish.
2. Deep frying method. Heat some oil (enough oil to cover the fish) in a wok (or saucepan or deepfryer). Add fish steaks and deep fry till golden brown and crispy.
3. Pan frying method. If you prefer to pan fry, heat some oil (generous amount to cover a layer of the entire wok or pan. Add fish steaks to cover a single layer in the wok. Pan fry for a few minutes on one side till golden brown and crispy. Turn over and pan fry till golden brown on the other side.

61 comments on “Deep-fried Tenggiri Fish”

  1. Hmm…my mom cook this too. Love to have it with sambal. :)

  2. I hope this is not too off topic but I would like to share how my grandma did hers. She use a ginger knob and rub the base of a heavy based wok and pan-fry the fish with low heat. This way, the fish will definitely not stick to the pan even with minimal oil. Try not to flip even if you have the tendency to do so. Only flip when the fish is cooked on one side. She drizzle soya sauce over the fish while still hot and garnish with very finely julienne ginger that are fried till crisp. It’s my favourite childhood food of all times!!!! Food at its simplest!

    • Ok, I am totally drooling over the description. Your grandma is a really good cook! Thank you for sharing your grandma’s version. I am going to try it out. :up:

  3. Don’t we all love deep fried tenggiri? :))

    My childhood food which I recalled vividly, I had them with sambal kecap (a mixture of kecap manis, sliced shallots and chilies, drizzle with lime) or with sambal terasi as well as steam warmed rice. yummmm.

    My family’s way to cook this, marinate the tenggiri with ground coriander, turmeric and garlic.

    • The Indonesian version sounds awesome! Love kecap on anything. I think from the comments alone, I collected a few neat recipes for cooking this fish

  4. yea ginger is a great way to get rid of fishiness. One delicious way is to coat the fish with a bit of ground ginger and curry powder and frying it. We grew up eating fried fish this way. Definitely got rid of the fishiness. Yum. Great recipe. Thanks for reviving nostagic memories.

  5. We called it tenggiri too here and my mom cooked it too since our little. My mom version is a little bit different, she will marinate it with tamarind and kaffir lime before frying it. After that eat it with sambal belacan … huah I’m hungry now :)

  6. WOW! You know what makes this really stand out? The green leaf that you used for the “plate”! :D It really gives it an earthy look without typical dinnerware. Great choice for this photo…..love the charred edges on the fish too. :up:

    • The green leaf is called banana leaf. It’s quite common in South East Asia where we used it to wrap foods such as fish, rice etc … it also gives a heavenly fragrance to the food. Thanks for your kind words hehe

    • That’s neat! Thanks for the bit of history. :) It’s always interesting to read.

  7. Hmm I grew up with this as well. Except the fried fish would have a onion dark soya sauce gravy. The gravy itself is made of dark soya sauce, a bit of light sauce, sugar and white pepper. Really delicious with rice.

  8. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been eating simply fried fish lately too. Except I dip mine in fish sauce. :)

    • yummy! I’ve been looking for Vietnamese fish sauce but no luck. heard it’s better than Thai fish sauce for dipping.

  9. Although fried ma jia is not my most favorite dish, it has been a homey dish I have enjoyed. I adore your presentation.

  10. This is also what I grew up with….half a piece with a big plate of rice. We were just so happy even to have that and some vegetables.

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