This is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. The caramel isn’t really caramel in the dessert sense more a thin, well-balanced, sweet, salty, savoury sauce that can be used with chicken and pork, too. Enjoy this with ‘33’ Export or Saigon lager, the latter being a pale, grainy lager with a hint of lemongrass. You will find both these beers and Hanoi, another Vietnamese lager, at your local bottle shop.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 fl oz/¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- small handful spring onions (scallions) thinly sliced
- 14 oz (400 g) firm white fish fillets > such as red snapper
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- steamed jasmine rice to serve
- Put the sugar in a small saucepan or frying pan and cook over high heat, without stirring. Shake the pan from time to time so any bits of sugar on the sides of the pan are incorporated.
- When the sugar starts to melt and turn a pale tea colour, use a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon to stir until the sugar is coffee-coloured. Slowly add 65 ml (2 fl oz) water, stirring as you do. The caramel will splutter and sizzle, but will settle down as all the water is added. Keep stirring to dissolve any toffee-like bits, until the caramel is thin and the colour of tea. Remove from the heat.
- Heat the oil in a seasoned clay pot, or in flameproof heavy-based casserole dish. Add the garlic and spring onion and stir-fry for 10 seconds, or until softened.
- Add the fish pieces and stir. Add the caramel sauce, turning the fish pieces over in the pot. Add the fish sauce and pepper and shake the pan to remove any stuck-on bits of fish. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then serve with steamed jasmine rice.