Before the pandemic, I typically spent about half the year out of the country for work. When I’m traveling, I love to dive into the local cuisine.
If I have my way and the world returns to some kind of normal, Vietnam is at the top of my must-visit list. Until then, I’ll be making this very traditional sweet and savory caramel salmon (or chicken) any chance I get.
1. Prepare your mise en place by slicing your peppers, bruising your lemongrass, chopping your ginger, and slicing your scallions.
2. Remove the skin from your salmon filet and dice into 1½” pieces.
3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the coconut water. Cook over medium-high, occasionally swirling the pan to help the sugar dissolve, until the caramel is dark golden brown, 4-6 minutes.
4. Remove pan from the heat and add fish sauce along with remaining 2 tablespoons coconut water. The mixture will bubble and the caramel may harden in spots.
5. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring until the hardened bits have dissolved. Add the chilies, lemon grass, ginger, and pepper, then cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6. Increase the heat to medium-high and mix in the cubed salmon, stirring often.
7. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the salmon is opaque and the sauce thickens, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard lemongrass, and stir in the lime juice. (Note: If using chicken, simmer the meat gently for 10 to 14 minutes until the sauce thickens and clings to the meat.)
8. Transfer to a serving dish with steamed rice and sprinkle with the scallions.
Questions? Text to Craig at 202-217-0996 or email Savor@metroweekly.com.
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