Salted egg has been a trend in Singapore for a long time. This recipe features it in a rich and luscious sauce over crispy whitebait, which serves as a dish on its own or as a snack for guests during the festive season or celebrations. Chilli padi helps keep the cloyness at bay, too.
- 300 g fresh whitebait
- 2 drops of Chinese rose wine
- 2 tbsps Shaoxing wine
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsps cornflour
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- ½ tbsp rice flour
- 40 ml water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves, stems
- 300 ml cooking oil, for deep-frying
- 2 tbsps cooking oil, for frying
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 10 cooked salted egg yolks (150 g), finely minced
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 chilli padi, finely sliced
Place the whitebait in a deep dish. Add the Chinese rose wine, Shaoxing wine and salt. Cover with clingwrap and leave to marinate for an hour in the fridge.
In a bowl, mix the cornflour, potato starch, rice flour and water. Add this to the whitebait and gently mix through so each whitebait is coated in the batter.
Strip the curry leaves off the stems. Ensure the leaves are thoroughly dry.
In a wok, heat 50 ml of the oil for deep-frying. Over medium-low heat, fry the curry leaves for 30 secs until they turn emerald green and remove them from the wok immediately.
Place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.
Add the remaining oil meant for deep-frying into the wok on medium heat.
Gently place the whitebait, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry in batches of five or six to prevent the whitebait from sticking together.
Fry until the whitebait floats up in the oil and turns golden yellow in colour. Place the fried whitebait on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
As you are frying, use a fine mesh oil skimmer to skim off any loose bits of fried batter.
After frying the whitebait, continue to heat the oil until it is on medium heat. Briefly deep-fry the whitebait a second time for a crispier texture.
Place the whitebait on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Discard used oil.
In a clean wok, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil on medium-low heat. Add the butter.
Once the butter melts, add in the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant.
Lower the heat and add in the salted egg yolks and chilli padi.
Stir and allow the mixture to cook until it turns foamy.
Add in the fried whitebait. Stir-fry briefly until the whitebait is coated in the salted egg yolk mixture. Season with salt.
Transfer the whitebait onto a serving dish and garnish with the fried curry leaves. Serve immediately.
CHEF’S TIP: For extra crunch, try double frying the whitebait.
ABOUT THE CHEF: Hedy Khoo is the columnist for The New Paper’s HED CHEF which features Asian cuisine and recipes. You can follow Hedy on her Instagram account @hedchefhedykhoo for more of her culinary adventures.
Recipe: Hedy Khoo / Photo: The New Paper