makes 2-4 servings
pink or red snapper fillets; skin-on
4-6 medium bok choy
4-5 slices of bacon
2 slices of ginger slivers (for sauté only)
4 cloves of minced garlic
3-4 tablespoons of shredded lemongrass stems
1 large leek
Salt & pepper
For Lemongrass & Kaffir Lime Broth
4 cups of water
4-5 soup spoons of Vietnamese fish sauce
2 small lumps of yellow rock sugar
3 cloves of whole garlic
2 slices of ginger
15 – 2″ pieces of lemongrass stalks (more if you’re a lemongrass enthusiast)
Kaffir lime leaves (shredded lime leaves work faster)
Bunch of Thai basil leaves
1-2 thai chilis or 2 red jalapeños
Marinate the fish in olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic and the shredded lemongrass stems. Marinate for at least 2 hours, no more than a day.
Start making the lemongrass and kaffir lime broth. Add the water, garlic, ginger and lemongrass stalks into a pot and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat so you can start doing the taste-testing. Add fish sauce and dissolve 1 small lump of rock sugar first, adding the other lump if needed. Once you have a nice balance of fish sauce, sweetness and aroma from the lemongrass, it’s time to add the kaffir lime leaves to achieve a flavor that resembles a very mild tom yum soup. Add 4 pinches of shredded lime leaves (3-4 leaves) to taste. Then add a few Thai basil leaves at a time to extract the aroma. Add chopped Thai chiles or red jalapeno slices for a little spice kick. Once the broth is complete, turn the heat on low and remove the Thai basil leaves – they will make the soup bitter if you leave it in.
Prepare bok choy by cleaning them properly and cutting off the stem so that the leaves are detached. On high heat, sauté the garlic, ginger slivers and Nueske bacon (for flavor) and salt & pepper to taste. Make sure these are sautéed 50% through as you’ll want them to have some crunch upon service. They will also be sitting in broth and will eventually soften. Set these aside or begin plating.
Optional: Cut 1/8″ diagonal “coins” from the leek stem. Pan fry these on medium heat in oil till they are nice and brown on both sides. It should have a nice crispness to it. Set aside when finished.
Turn oven to 450 degrees. Add salt & pepper on all sides of the snapper fillet. Sear the snapper fillets skin-side down on medium heat with your oil of choice for about 4-5 mintues. Make sure that you get a nice crust on the skin as the snapper skin is a bit more rubbery like chicken skin. Carefully flip the fillets over without ruining the skin and put the skillet in the oven for another 5-7 minutes, depending on your cuts. Take fillets out and set aside.
Bring the lemongrass and kaffir lime broth to a boil and make sure the broth is seasoned well and has not become salty from water loss. Place fish on top of the bed of bok choy and add the broth around the fish, careful not to get the fillets wet. Garnish with leek “coins” and thinly-sliced red jalapeños or Thai chiles. Optional: Put the whole plated dish back into the oven for a good 5 minutes to ensure a super hot plate – it tastes better that way.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Dylan, Eat, Drink + Be Merry., Los Angeles, March 28, 2011