"I acquired the all the tomatoes, lemongrass, chilies, and eggplant from the MUNCHIES garden, so feel free to freestyle and add whatever type of good tomatoes, fresh chilies and eggplant you have available."
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 days
for the fermented lemongrass-chili condiment:
2 stalks lemongrass
2 Thai chilies
10 ripe Sun Gold tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
for the Drunken Fish:
1 (1 ½-pound|680-gram) whole fish, approximately, scaled and gutted (I used dorade, but you can substitute red snapper or black bass.)
6 garlic cloves, confited (cook the garlic slowly over low, covered in olive oil, until sweet and soft! Reserve the oil.)
kosher salt, to taste
1 long red chile or any fresh chile to your liking
1 San Marzano tomato or large ripe Roma
2 Japanese eggplants (I used really thin, beautiful, and curly eggplants, but you can use any type of small eggplant. Just be sure to give it enough cooking time.)
1 teaspoon fermented black beans
1 teaspoon fried garlic
2 tablespoons Xiaoxing wine
a few small tomato leaves
cooked jasmine rice, for serving
- For the fish stuffing, remove the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass and mince finely. Mince the Thai chilies finely. In a small mixing bowl, smash the very ripe Sun Gold tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Incorporate the minced lemongrass, Thai chilies, and salt. You should have about 1 cup of this nice, fragrant paste. Put in an airtight container in a dark room for a day or two and allow to ferment. More liquid will be released and the lemongrass and tomato flavors will become heightened and more digestible.
- I roasted my fish in a wood oven (about 800°F) but feel free to use the broiler in your oven. In a flat pan, season your fish with the confit garlic oil and salt inside the cavity and the outside of the fish. Stuff it with the lemongrass-tomato condiment and add a little chili pepper in the fish's mouth. It makes it less scary for some people to see a whole fish at their table.
- In the same pan, arrange your San Marzano tomatoes and eggplant next to the fish and throw it into the oven. (In a wood oven, this takes about 8 minutes to cook, but in a home oven on the broiler setting it might take more like 11-12 minutes). Just check with a cake tester, which should go into the fish/eggplant without much resistance.
- About 2 minutes before the fish is done, add your fermented black beans, fried garlic, and wine to deglaze. You should get a nice color on the fish, garlic, and vegetables.
- With a fish spatula, transfer your whole fish to a plate and dump all the delicious tomato juices and cooking liquids over the fish. It should be sitting in a delicious pool of flavorful liquid. Garnish the fish with fried garlic, tomato leaves, and more olive oil or garlic oil. Fish should be just cooked and tender, and the tomatoes, garlic, and eggplant should be creamy and charred at the same time. Serve with hot jasmine rice.
Get recipes like this and more in the Munchies Recipes newsletter. Sign up here.