Contains: Seafood, optional soy, optional nightshade. Is: Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, quick and easy. Paleo and Whole30 option.
My recipe today is inspired by one found in the New York Times – using a fish that is not found near Vietnam. So I felt free to go with my own notions as well. Check out Fast Vietnamese Caramel Bluefish. (If it turns out you don’t like my adaptation, you may well prefer theirs.)
Where I differ is that I don’t caramelize, or even fast-caramelize – my bluefish – instead of adding the brown sugar I opted to use a pear that has been sitting on my counter. Besides some of the comments on their page indicated that the recipe as it stood was too sweet. The nearest verifiable source of fresh lemongrass is currently over an hour away from me, so I went with powdered. Your other option is to use lemon or lime zest, see below.
Bluefish is a stronger-flavored fish better eaten as soon after purchase (or fishing expedition capture) as possible. I prefer the smaller filets, but ended up with a larger one, which I had the fishmonger cut in half – didn’t need the whole fillet in this case. Because mine was thicker than the recipe was considering, I cooked mine longer.
It is one of the northern Atlantic ocean-going fishes rich in omega 3 fatty oils, and therefore healthy for you. It is probably only going to be found on the northern eastern seaboard region of the US – if I am mistaken and you find it elsewhere, let me know!
If you can’t find bluefish, you can sub in (according to the New York Times) mackerel, trout, or salmon filets. Or any of the more flavorful of the fishes.
Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time: 8 minutes.
Rest Time: 2 minutes.
Vietnamese-Inspired Pan Fried Bluefish
- Two skin-on bluefish fillets, preferably about six ounces each fillet. My sections (from one large fillet) were five ounces apiece. Play by ear.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or other healthy high temp oil)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, or in my case, 2 teaspoons powdered lemongrass. Or… lemon or lime zest. See below for preps.
- 1 pear, Asian or Anjou preferred. Mince and de-seed.
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce.
- 1.5 low sodium tamari, gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut aminos (the latter for Paleo or Whole30, or for soy-free eating).
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 or two scallions, sliced on the diagonal
- Optional jalapeno, de-seeded, sliced very thin, and use as much or little as you wish. Jalapenos are not created equal, some are hotter than others.
- Optional cilantro (coriander leaf), at whim. (My whim was not to drive 35 minutes to my nearest supermarket, alas!)
Get your mis en place in place…
Lightly coat the fish fillets with the oil, all sides.
For the lemongrass, if using: Cut stalk into 2 inch segments and bruise the segments by pounding them with the handle of a kitchen knife or similar, to release the flavors. (this according to the NY Times, as I didn’t have this). For the powder, if using: 2 teaspoons. (this is what I actually did…) For the lemon or lime zest, if using: peel a 2 inch strip of lemon or lime zest, and simply add that. (this according to the NY Times, as I didn’t use this, either).
To a suitably large skillet, add the lemongrass (or substitution), pear, fish and tamari sauces, ginger paste and black pepper. Heat to a simmer, medium-high. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, allowing the pear to grow soft and release some of its juices and sugars.
Add the bluefish fillets, skin down. If they are thick, as mine was, cook 5 minutes on medium heat. Flip over, for another three minutes.
After this cooks, plate, adding the rest of the ingredients scattered over the top. I added it to bok choy leaves.
Link Parties and Blog Hops:
What’s For Dinner – Sunday Link Up, with more delectables!
Full Plate Thursday – and the plate is enticingly FULL!