I’m always leery to use terms like “fast” or “30-minute” or “easy” or “best ever”. Oftentimes they’re tagged onto recipes which don’t live up to the hype and you’re left disappointed. I’d rather just be told the truth. Not every recipe has to be fast, but if one is sold to me as fast, I’ll usually make it when I’m in a hurry and then when it takes too long and I’m stressing out to get dinner on the table before having to run off to something else….argh!! Don’t like that.
At my Asian cooking class a few months back we discussed favorite Asian dishes that we make at home. My lovely friend Stacy was kind enough to email links to a bunch of delicious-sounding family-friendly, quick Asian meals. This Vietnamese Caramelized Trout not only appeared to be quick but the ingredient list had me hooked.
The original New York Times recipe calls for bluefish, but as that isn’t available in the UK (at least not at my local fish market), I found some delicious whole trout that the fishmonger filleted for me. Since the trout is relatively thin, it cooks quickly, and indeed makes this a quick 30-minute meal. The lemongrass, soy, brown sugar, ginger and fish sauce make a sweet, flavorful pan sauce. The green onions added at the end lend color and a bit of oniony bite.
If you’re looking for a true 30-minute meal, give this one a go!
Vietnamese Caramelized Trout (serves 4)
Note: Lemongrass is found in many supermarkets, but if you don’t find it in your local store try an Asian food market. Or substitute lemongrass with some strips of lime zest (use a vegetable peeler). You don’t need to bruise the peel (as you have to bruise the lemongrass).
4 (6-ounce) skin-on trout filets (or substitute bluefish, mackerel or salmon) – thinner filets are best
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass (or use lime zest, see Note above)
1/3 cup (70 grams) brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 spring onions/scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro/coriander
Cooked rice, for serving
Brush fish all over with oil. Remove outer layer of lemongrass stalk and cut stalk into 2-inch lengths. Using the butt of a kitchen knife, pound and bruise stalks all over.
Place lemongrass pieces, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger and black pepper in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and reduce sauce for 1 to 2 minutes, until syrupy.
Place fish, skin side-down, in pan. Simmer, basting fish frequently with pan sauce, for 2 minutes; carefully turn fish and continue cooking until fish is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Transfer fish to a serving plate and garnish with scallion, jalapeño and cilantro. Drizzle with additional sauce. Serve over rice, if desired.
Adapted from The New York Times