While travelling in Vietnam last year we visited a popular tourist town Hoi An which is a UNESCO-registered port town. When we were there it was a full moon and they had decorated the streets and buildings with lanterns, which beautifully reflected off the river running through the centre of the old town. During this time they switch off fluorescent lights and close the roads; so visitors can experience the old Hoi An.
In Hoi An we decided to take a cooking course with Green Bamboo cooking school. If you ever go to Hoi An I urge you to take this class, the woman teaching it is an absolute goddess, the food was amazing and we met some lovely people. Before we started cooking, she took us to a traditional market to get fresh ingredients for our chosen dishes, I was in my element!
I chose to make:
Vietnamese lemongrass and chilli mackerel
BTW: Mackerel is a lovely oily fish, but cheaper fillets (I have found) can often be quite fatty- try and get the fish from a fishmonger if possible.
Ingredients to make enough for two:
2 fillets of Mackerel
2 sticks of lemongrass
1 whole chilli with seeds (this obviously depends on preference and how spicy the chilli is)
2 cloves of garlic
A bunch of coriander
A handful of asparagus (this wasn’t in the original recipe)
1 cup of uncooked rice
1 table spoon fish sauce
1 table spoon brown sugar
Juice of one lime
Soy to taste
First, cut your fish into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Bash the lemongrass with a pestle and mortar- then once it is loosened up finely chop it. You don’t want massive chunks of lemongrass in your mouth as it is quite stringy. Chop the chilli, garlic and shallots. Combine the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce- stir to dissolve the sugar, and then use all of these ingredients to marinade the fish. For best results leave in the fridge for an hour or two.
15 minutes before you want to eat, put your rice on; two cups of water to one cup of rice. Bring to the boil with a pinch of salt, then turn down the heat with a lid on the pot until the water has all been soaked up (try not to take the lid off at all).
Meanwhile, stir fry the shallots until soft. Add the fish and asparagus and fry in sesame or coconut oil for 3-4 minutes, until you see the mackerel is starting to flake. At the end, add some chopped coriander and soy sauce to taste.