Earlier that day, we had gone on a Costco shopping trip with a carnivorous agenda, our cart stocked with enough meats to feed the two of us for three months, including a fish labeled as “Rockfish,” a fish I had never cooked with before. I confirmed that the species was kosher and decided to use it to reimagine one of my favorite Thai dishes, Laap, which hails from the Northern provinces, bordering Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Northern Thai food is more similar to the food found in Laos. Traditionally, the cuisine found in this region is not made with coconut and is more herbaceous and milder than other regions. Here, food is usually boiled or steamed and fresh fish and pork meat reign supreme. Laap, a minced meat salad, is typically made with minced pork, herbs, lime juice, palm sugar, fermented fish sauce/paste, and ground roasted rice, although there are many variations. I decided that the rockfish would make a wonderful substitution for the pork, based on no expertise whatsoever–it just sounded like a good idea–and I was lucky, because it was! I think any mild white fish would do, however, including halibut or tilapia.
This dish is appropriate for spring or summer: the crisp lettuce leaves with the slightly sweet, slightly sour and mildly spicy flavors on the fish that is just all too happy to cooperate would pair well with a porch swing and a crisp beer or lightly sweet white wine.
Note: My recipe is cooked via sous-vide, but you could easily poach or steam your fish to get a similar effect. Also of note, I use store-bought prepared lemon grass paste instead of fresh lemon grass for the marinade because I think working with fresh lemon grass is a pain in the tuchus, but you can use fresh if you prefer.
Measurements below serve just two–scale up (or down) to suit your family!
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Kosher Status: Pareve
| Ingredients |
Marinade and glaze for fish
- 2 tablespoons Lemon grass paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Two sprigs of Thai basil
- Two small handfuls of cilantro leaves
- Juice of half of a medium-sized lime (approx. 1/4 a cup)
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
- Two teaspoons soy sauce
Two filets of rockfish (or fish of choice)
Lettuce leaves (for lettuce wraps) and lime wedges, Thai basil, and cilantro for garnish
| Directions |
- Preheat sous-vide water bath to 127°F/53°
- Mix the first three ingredients for the marinade together. Brush sides of the fish with the marinade, throw a sprig of Thai basil and a small handful of cilantro into two bag with each of the filets of fish, seal, and add to the sous vide bath.
- Cook fish for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh loses its translucency and firms up.
- While the fish is cooking, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.
- Remove fish and brush with any remaining glaze; sear either under a broiler on high or using a torch.
- Lay fish on lettuce leaves and drizzle the dressing over them. Add basil leaves and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.