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Impress Your Friends With This Magnificent Fish

HaiSous’s Thai Dang shares his recipe for ca kho ca chua.

Ca Kho Ca Chua
Photos: Jeff Marini

This whole roasted fish from Chef Thai Dang of HaiSous is based on a Vietnamese dish he grew up eating called ca kho ca chua. Finished with a tomato sauce flavored with garlic and fish sauce, it’s a visually impressive, satisfying main dish that’s surprisingly easy to prepare. Don’t stress about filleting the fish. Cut straight across the fish’s backbone from head to tail, then pull the top fillet off with a knife or fork. “No need to even flip the fish,” Dang says. “Just pull the bones up, and the other fillet is waiting for you at the bottom.”

Thai Dang’s Ca Kho Ca Chua

Serves:2 to 3
Active Time:20 minutes
Total time:1 hour

2 Tbsp. Minced garlic
½ Tbsp. Minced shallots
2 Tbsp. Minced scallion bottoms, tops reserved
  Olive oil, as needed
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1 Thinly sliced Thai chile
  Salt and pepper, to taste
  Fish sauce (available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores)
2½ cups Chopped fresh tomato
1 cup Chopped canned Italian tomatoes
2 tsp. Granulated sugar or palm sugar
1 Sea bass or other saltwater fish (2 to 3 lb.), cleaned, with fins removed
  Thai basil or cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

Tomato sauce

Sauté the garlic, shallots, and scallion bottoms in olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat.

Add red pepper flakes and Thai chile, and season with salt, pepper, and a few shakes of fish sauce. Add fresh and canned tomatoes and sugar, and bring to a boil, then lower heat.

Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning as desired with salt or fish sauce.

 

Scallions

While the sauce simmers, slice the scallion tops thinly on the bias, and soak in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.

Drain, pat dry, and set aside.

 

Fish

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the fish thoroughly and pat dry.

Season it inside and out with salt and pepper, and roast on a sheet pan for 10 minutes. Transfer fish to the uncovered pot of tomato sauce to finish, covering it slightly with sauce, about 2 minutes.

Serve fish garnished with sauce, herbs, and scallion tops.

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