Uyen Luu's crispy sea bream fillets with rice noodles + sweetheart cabbage

Uyen Luu's crispy sea bream fillets with rice noodles + sweetheart cabbage

By
From
A Lot on Her Plate
Serves
2
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

My friend Uyen Luu is a Vietnamese supper club hostess, food writer, stylist and excellent cook, and she always says the key to Vietnamese food is ‘to get the right balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot’. She turned me on to using Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam) in my cooking, and now I find myself adding it to things like spag bol, marinades and stocks for extra savoury depth. At her supper club, Uyen serves a mixture of traditional and contemporary Vietnamese dishes. This is one of her more modern creations and I love it because, like lots of Vietnamese food, it elevates quite humble ingredients into something really special thanks to its well-pitched contrast of sweet, salty, sour and spicy. Uyen says, ‘Prep all the ingredients for this recipe beforehand as it’s fast work over the stove.’

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons good-quality fish sauce, (Uyen favours the three crabs brand)
1 bird’s-eye chilli, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon chilli oil
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons flavourless oil, (rapeseed, groundnut or sunflower)
400g sea bream, skin-on, scaled
or 2 fillets sea bream, skin-on, scaled
200g dried flat rice noodles
25g shallot, sliced
120g sweetheart cabbage, washed and sliced into thin 1 cm ribbons
2 spring onions, finely sliced
10g coriander leaves or mint, sliced
10g thai basil, (optional)

Method

  1. In a bowl mix together the ingredients for the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the sea bream, skin-side down, for 3–5 minutes on each side, until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked through. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.
  3. Place the noodles in a heatproof container, cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes with a lid on. Test to make sure they are al dente, drain and rinse with cold water until the starch is removed and the water runs clear.
  4. Using the same pan and oil that you cooked the fish in, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sliced cabbage, spring onions and the noodles, and fry for a further 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the cabbage leaves wilt. Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss to coat them well. Add the coriander and Thai basil (if using), fry for a further 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Divide the noodles between two serving plates, top with the fish and eat immediately.
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