This is a popular dish at Casa Isleña because it’s light and fresh, salty and sweet and spicy. The fish must be fresh: I’ve used dorado, yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, wahoo, swordfish. I’ve served it with basmati rice, turkish pilaf, or just in a bowl with toasted baguette and the broth. It doesn’t matter much how you serve this dish as long as your fish is cooked correctly. The sauce is what really holds this dish up.
2 to 5 pounds fresh fish
1 red onion finely diced
1 jalapeño finely diced
The denser fish (see above for examples) can be cubed and skewered then seared or grilled. Before skewering toss with the onion and jalapeño and a quarter cup of nuoc mam. I’ve also used filets of snapper which can be more fragile and flaky. Scale it, filet it, season it with salt and pepper, roll it in flour and sear in a hot skillet with hot oil.
For the coconut sauce:
2 cans coconut milk
1/2 Cup Nuoc Mam
1/2 a bunch of chopped cilantro
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan mix the coco milk and nuoc mam and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cilantro. Pour on top of the grilled fish.
1 stalk of lemongrass, peeled and sliced thin (the innermost and white parts only)
1 shallot sliced thin
1 heaping tablespoon of mai ploy curry paste
It’s not much more difficult but adds a bit more flavor. Before adding the liquids, sauté the lemongrass and shallot on a medium heat (don’t burn the shallot, but you want to sweat the lemongrass long enough to extract to good flavors). Then stir in the curry paste and sauté for a couple minutes so it’s nice and fragrant. Then add your coco milk, nuoc mam and bring to a quick boil. Remove from heat and strain out the lemongrass and shallot, then add the cilantro. Easy.