If there is one thing you have to try while visiting Bermuda, it would definitely be a fish sandwich. Who would ever say no to crispy battered fish, sandwiched between a toasted loaf, dressed with crunchy slaw and creamy tarter? Whenever Dan and I have friends visiting, one of the must-do’s on the list for our guests is to take them to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy for their famous fish sandwich. Piled high with crispy battered fish as tall as a fist, Art Mel’s sandwich really is a sight to see. Even my brother and his fiancée loved it so much they went twice in the week they were visiting.
Bermudafoodie.com is currently holding an Island wide contest with local restaurants in search of the best fish sandwich. 40 restaurants are participating and if your belt can stay notched in, you have until August 14th to try each one. Needless to say, Bermuda loves their fish sandwiches.
In honour of Bermudafood.com’s contest, I decided to create my own version of a fish sandwich. I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of my Asian heritage into this endeavour and at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. I didn’t think slapping some Asian condiments on top of fish warranted enough creativity, so I started to think about the carb portion of the meal and a light bulb went off in my head. Ah ha! I can wrap the crispy deep fried fish in a Chinese mantou bun!
Slightly sweet and steamed to softness, I grew up on this dough in the form of barbecue pork buns where the filling is actually enclosed. Bao, in Chinese, literally means ‘to wrap’. So instead for this recipe, I was inspired by the Gau Bao, a Taiwanese street food item that has been in the limelight in the last few years due to trendy eateries such as Momofuku and Baohaus. With raisins kneaded into the dough, the bun has that same hint of sweetness that makes Bermuda’s Fish sandwiches one of a kind. Add tempura styled fried fish, zesty citrus slaw and spicy tarter and you have my spin on a fish sandwich. Part Bermuda and part Chinese, this is the Fried Fish Gua Bao!
Makes 8 small sandwiches
Raisin Mantou Bao
Adapted from A Table for Two
300 g bread Flour (2 1/3 cups)
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 tablespoons milk powder (optional)
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup raisins
Add the yeast to water and let it activate for 5 minutes until frothy. Add the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl of stand mixer with a dough hook and pour in the yeast water. Mix on low speed for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease the sides of a bowl and place the dough inside and cover with a towel. Let the dough rest for about 1 – 1 1/2 hour until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a large rectangle. Shape the dough into large tight log. Using a knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces about 70 grams each. Flatten and roll each piece until smooth and place onto a tray lined with parchment paper and let rest covered for another 30 minutes.
While resting, cut out 16 small squares of parchment paper.
Take each dough and with a rolling pin, roll into a long oval shape about 6″x 4”. Fold over the dough in half lengthwise and place a piece of parchment paper on the inside to prevent sticking. Place the bun on a second square of paper. Repeat with all 8 pieces and cover with a towel and let it proof for another 30 minutes.
Set up a steamer over simmering water on medium heat. Place the buns in the steamer with at least 1 1/2” space in between. Steam for 10 minutes in batches.
*Buns freeze well and just need to reheated in the microwave for serving.
1 medium carrot
half of a small white cabbage
half of a small purple cabbage
1 green onion
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Shred carrot and cabbages with a mandolin or slice thin with a knife. Slice green onion. Mix together and sprinkle in vinegar, lemon juice and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or more to taste)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
Combine all ingredients for sauce and set aside.
Tempura Fried Fish
1 pound white fish sliced in small 2oz portions (wahoo, cod, tilapia, mahimahi) * always locally caught when available
squeeze of lemon juice
salt & pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/4 cup of cold seltzer water
oil for frying
cilantro leaves for garnish
Marinate fish with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt & pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Set aside for 20 minutes while you prepare the batter.
Mix together flour, corn starch, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne, and seltzer water. Whisk to combine.
Drain the fish pieces and pat dry with a paper towel.
Line a plate with paper towels and in a large heavy pot or cast iron pan heat about 1/2 inch of oil medium heat until 360c.
Dredge the fish pieces in the batter and carefully drop into the hot oil, careful not to crowd the fish by cooking in several batches. Monitor the temperature of the oil throughout the fry, keeping it at least 360. Fry until crisp, light and golden brown about 3 minutes each side. Remove and place on lined plates.
To assemble, remove paper from the bun and peel it open. Slater a good amount of tarter sauce on the inside of each steamed bun. Layer the slaw and hot fried fish and garnish with a handful of cilantro.