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Delicious, Crispy Whole Fish

Cooking a whole fish need not be a whole lot of work, not even when the fish is fried.

The Early Show resident chef Bobby Flay says fish cooked with the bone in is actually some of the easiest and best tasting fish around. He demonstrates on Thursday's The Early Show how to cook crispy, whole fish with five pepper-ginger sauce.

Flay seasons his fish inside and out with salt and pepper. To create the crispy coating, he has selected rice flour instead of regular baking flour. Rice flour is a fine, powdery flour made from regular white rice (it's used a lot in Asian cooking). The rice flour gives the fish a wonderfully firm consistency, mild crunch and adds a little extra flavor once fried.

Slitting the fish three places down to the bone allows the rice flour (once the fish is dipped) to permeate the cavity and further flavor the interior flesh. The use of canola oil is significant in that the oil itself is very mild, so what you taste is the seasoned fish itself, not the excess oil. And, the five pepper-ginger sauce provides that extra special flavor dimension.

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Recipes:

Crispy Whole Fish with Five Pepper-Ginger Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients for Five Pepper-Ginger Sauce
3 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 habanero chile, chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 poblano chile, finely diced
salt

Place vinegar, sugar, habanero and ginger in a medium saucepan and cook over high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, season with salt. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a little bit of red wine vinegar.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a bowl, stir in the red and yellow pepper and poblano and season with salt to taste.

Ingredients for Crispy Whole Fish
2 cups rice flour
1 cups cold water
salt and freshly ground pepper
canola, vegetable or peanut oil
two 1-pound farm-raised striped bass, scaled and gutted, rinsed and patted dry
chopped cilantro

Mix together the rice flour and water in a medium baking dish until smooth with the consistency of milk, adding more water if too thick, season with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan and heat until it reaches 375 degrees F on a deep fat thermometer.

Make 3 slits on each side of each fish with a knife just until you hit the bone. Season the outside and the cavity of each fish with salt and pepper, dip into the rice batter and fry the fish, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, place on a serving plate and drizzle with the five pepper-ginger sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

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