I always forget how easy it is to put together just a few key ingredients to create delicious Thai flavor. Fish sauce (not soy), coconut milk, lime, peanut oil. Granted, to get it right, it helps to have lemon grass, ginger, cilantro and scallions, but you can get the basic idea with even just the first three items. Last Sunday, after having ogled some perch at our farmers’ market, I was determined not to fry or broil it. I wanted to make something the kids would gobble up. I looked in the cupboard and saw that I had coconut milk, which is always good for making things taste sweet and creamy. I also had a leek, though onion, shallot, scallion would have been fine. I had some lemon grass on its last leg, as well as a tiny nub of ginger. Still, I would have forged ahead even without those, and am quite sure the result would have been the same. So here’s the idea:
Saute whatever onion you have, preferably in peanut oil. Add lemon grass if you have.
Add whatever stock you have. I happened to have fish stock frozen, though I would have used vegetable.
Add a few squeezes of good fish sauce. I always pick up this kind when I’m in Chinatown, as I have seen this on the tables of some of the best Thai and Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall places.
Add a can of coconut milk and the juice of two limes. Optional: add vegetables if you have any–peppers, carrots, eggplant, zucchini.
Add any white fish that will fit in the pan and poach until cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Serve over rice.