Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pan Fried Snapper with Tomato-Scallion Nuoc Cham

Snapper was on sale at my local market this week and I usually never buy fish that isn't on the bone, but the thought of a good piece of fish was calling out to me.  On my father side of the family, fish is a normal meal for him growing up in a fishing village.  I remember my dad made fish different ways when we were growing up on the Gulf Coast.   As I was frying the fish, I heard my father's voice said that nuoc cham various depending on the dish you eat.  I  had a vision of my mom's plate of banh beo sitting on the table and I wanted the sauce on my fish.  My mother wasn't a very creative cook but this was something I thought was very delicious that she made for us when I was a kid.

2-3 Snapper filets
Salt and pepper
2 stalks scallions, green parts only cut into 2 inch strips
2 smashed garlic cloves
2 inch piece of ginger, julienned

1 small to medium tomato, diced
2 stalks scallion finely chopped, white part only
3-4 tsp of palm sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Thai bird chilies, chopped finely
2-3 Tbsp fish sauce
4-5 Tbsp water

Add the water and sugar to the saucepan and over a low to medium heat, allow the sugar to melt into the water.  When the sugar is melted, add the chopped tomato to the saucepan and allow for the tomato to soften, but still keep it's shape.  Add the garlic and chilis and allow for it to cook in the warm sauce for about 5 mins.  Add the fish sauce and give it a good stir.  Taste it.  Adjust it with more sugar, water, or fish sauce, to your taste.  Add the finely chopped scallions and remove from the heat.

Pat dry the fish.  Lightly salt and pepper the fish and rub it into flesh.  Heat up the frying pan and allow the pan to smoke a little before taking the pan off the heat and add a little oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the smashed garlic and fish, skin side down and place it back on the heat and turn the heat on to high.  Remove the garlic when it becomes a nice golden brown color. (You want to impart a garlic favor to the oil) and set the garlic pieces to the side.  You want allow the fish to cook on high heat to get the skin crispy.  Depending on your stove settings, the cooking time will vary. I look at the flesh of my fish and watch for the "internal fish thermometer" to tell me.  You will see the flesh of the fish turn color from the side.  When it is ready to turn, the fish will not stick to the pan, but will easily lift from the pan.  Make sure that the pan stays hot.  Otherwise it will not lift from the pan.  Flip and cook the other side on a reduce heat.  Cover the pan if needed.  When done remove and allow the fish to rest.

Add the julienned ginger to the pan with a little oil and fry the ginger until it is crispy and golden brown.  Remove and place to the side.  Add scallion greens fry until the greens are wilted.  Remove and set aside.

On a plate, add the sauce to the bottom of the plate.  Arrange the fish on top of the sauce.  Add the smashed garlic, crispy ginger, and wilted greens on top.  Spoon the tomatoes from the nuoc cham on to the fish.

Bon Appetite.