Sautéed Fish with Turmeric, Dill and Vermicelli
• 800g white fish fillets (tilapia or catfish), skin and bones removed, cut into 3-5 cm chunks
• 200g dried Vietnamese rice vermicelli
• Vegetable oil, for sautéing
• 2 large handfuls of dill sprigs
• 12 spring onions, thickly sliced
• 80g, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
• 2 handfuls mixed fresh herbs; fish mint, coriander, Vietnamese perilla, mint
• Vietnamese dipping sauce
• Tangy-Sweet Shrimp Sauce
• Lime wedges
• 3 sesame rice papers, fried
• 5 cm knob fresh galangal, roughly chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• 1-2 long red chili, seed, and roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp ground turmeric
• ½ tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp white pepper powder
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• 1 tbsp fine shrimp sauce
To make the marinade, pound the galangal, garlic, chili, turmeric, sugar, and white pepper powder into a paste in a mortar. Add oil, fish sauce, fine shrimp sauce, and 2 tbsp water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Smear the marinade over the fish and marinate for about 2-4 hours.
Have a grill pan ready for the second fish cooking stage.
Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in cold water for 20 minutes. Boil according to the instruction. Gently stir to separate the noodles, then drain and refresh under cold water. Drain well and set aside.
Pat dry the fish with a paper towel; the excess liquid will make the fish stick to the pan or grill. Grill the fish on the preheated grill pan for 1 minute on each side, remove before the fish is cooked all the way through. Set aside.
Heat about 2 cm of oil in the hot sauté pan. Add the fish and cook quickly for 2 minutes, turning once. Add the spring onion for 1 minute then turn off the heat and add dill and toss until wilted.
Divide one-third of noodles among bowls. Top with sautéed fish, spring onion, dill mixture, and peanuts.
Serves on the side the nước chấm, mắm tôm chấm, lime wedges, fried sesame rice crackers and fresh herbs separate for dinners to help themselves.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
• 2 long red chilies
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-3 limes, cut them in half
• 1 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
• 2-3 tbsp sugar
• 160 ml lukewarm water
• Vietnamese fish sauce
1. Remove the seed and the inner pith of the chilies. Cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. In the mortar add chilies and garlic. Hold the pestle with one hand and grip the mortar with the other. Pound the pestle into the mortar, breaking up the chili peppers and garlic cloves. Also, take time to press, turn and do a grinding motion with the pestle inside the bowl of the mortar. Squeeze the lime juice into the mortar and sprinkle the sugar. Add vinegar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add fish sauce, starting out with 2 tbsp and then adding more as your palate dictates, balancing the sour, sweet, and salty. How much fish sauce depends on the brand and your own taste.
3. Put the dipping sauce on the table so that diners can serve themselves, or portion it out in advance for serving. It may be prepared early in the day and left at room temperature until serving.
Tangy-Sweet Shrimp Sauce
Mắm tôm chấm
• 1 tbsp canola oil
• 2 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2-3 chili padi, finely chopped
• 3 tbsp fine shrimp sauce
• 1 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
• ½ tbsp fish sauce
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 50ml pineapple juice
In a small saucepan, combine the oil, shallot, and garlic over medium heat. When the oil is sizzling and fragrant, add chili, shrimp paste, and vinegar. Whisk it evenly. Add fish sauce, sugar, and pineapple juice. Cook for 5 minutes. Adjust the taste to your likes. Set aside for 1 hour to let the flavors develop before serving.