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Peanut oil for deep-frying
1 6-inch ready-to-cook whole catfish; very fresh
8 sl Fresh ginger; each 1/4-inch thick
1/4 c Sake
1/4 c Soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Green onions; sliced, for garnish
Garlic chives or lemongrass
Make 4 deep, diagonal slashes (to the bone) on both sides of fish. Insert ginger into the slashes. Refrigerate.
In a small saucepan, bring the sake and soy sauce to a boil. Add lemon juice to taste and let sauce cool.
Fill wok (or fryer large enough to hold fish) with peanut oil to cover fish by 1 inch. Heat oil until very hot. (A drop of water flecked into the oil will dance on the surface when the oil is hot enough.)
Season fish lightly with salt and pepper, then dust with cornstarch. Add fish to wok, letting it swim into the hot peanut oil head first and curving it slightly.
Cook 5 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting the tip of a knife next to the spine to see if the fish is cooked through.
To serve, pour a little sauce onto a platter. Remove fish from the oil and let it drain briefly on several layers of paper towels. Then transfer it to the platter. Drizzle fish with lemon juice and a little of the sauce. Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Garnish plate with garlic chives or lemongrass. Yields 1 or 2 servings.