Meet the Peppers
I sheepishly admit that I had no clue what fish paste was until I decided to try and explain it in this blog. It may look odd but it’s really just fish that’s been through the food processor until it becomes a smooth paste. I had a fear that it was more like the sausage of seafood..but then again, what’s wrong with sausage?
This is a dish that so versatile that it can be eaten as is (cooked, of course!), stuffed into fried tofu, jalapenos, chilies, peppers, mini peppers, okra, eggplant, etc…I generally compliment the fish cakes with a black bean or sweet thai chili sauce.
1 lb of fish paste (this is usually found in containers in the freezer aisle(s) of an Asian market. If you’re lucky, your store might have this made fresh!)
12 raw shrimp, deveined, tails removed
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tbs minced green onion
2 heavy dashes of white pepper
1 tsp salt
1 red chile, ribs and seeds removed, and minced
1 tbs sesame oil
Black bean sauce
1 tablespoon of black bean sauce
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of water plus 1 teaspoon of corn starch (stir well)
1. Squish the shrimp until flattened (I find using a wide blade helps – something similar to a cleaver). Chop squished shrimp until shrimp looks pulverized (lovely description, eh?)
2. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together until the mixture firms up (1-2 minutes). Cover and place in fridge.
3. Vegetable prep. If you are using chilies, mini peppers,or okra, make a 1/4 inch slit from top to bottom of the peppers. Remove any ribbing or seeds. If you’re using fried tofu puffs, poke the a hole into one of the sides to make an indentation. If using eggplant (japanese), cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick discs.
4. Pat the vegatables dry and rub corn starch on or inside the area where the fish paste will be (this allows the fish paste to adhere to the vegatable).
5. Stuff the vegetables/tofu with fish paste and make sure you do not over-stuff them. If using eggplant, place fish paste directly on top of the eggplant-slice.
6. In a pan on medium heat, add 1 tsp of oil and veggies (fish-paste side up) and gently fry for 3 minutes. Add 1/4to 1/2 cup water and cover until all the water evaporates.
7. Serve with black bean sauce or thai chile sauce.
Black bean sauce recipe
8. Heat up some oil in a wok and stir-fry the chopped garlic until light brown or fragrant. Add the black bean sauce and do a quick stir. Add water and sugar. Let the sauce thicken and drizzle over your fish-paste stuffed peppers.