Vietnam has nearly two thousand miles of coast, and huge river deltas—the Mekong, the Perfume River, and the Red River. Fish, shellfish, and anything that swims or lives near water are an essential part of Vietnamese life and make up a large percentage of the Vietnamese diet. This rustic fisherman’s stew has a depth of complex flavors. You can use any combination of fish and shellfish. You could also make a vegetarian curry by substituting the fish with fresh seasonal vegetables of your choice.
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
– 4 shallots, finely chopped.
– 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
– 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves discarded, thinly sliced.
– 1in (2.5cm) fresh ginger, finely grated.
– ½ tsp crushed dried red chilies.
– 1 tsp mild curry powder.
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
– ½ tsp ground star anise.
– ½ tsp ground coriander.
– 2 fresh red jalapeño or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped.
– 1 can (14fl oz) coconut milk.
– 5 fresh lime leaves or finely grated.
– zest of 4 limes.
– 8oz (225g) peeled raw tiger prawns.
– 12oz (340g) firm white fish such as.
– snapper or sea bream (porgy), skinned.
– and cut into 1in (2.5cm) cubes.
– 20 fresh Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped.
– 30 fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped.
– 6 scallions (green onions), finely chopped.
– juice of 1 lime.
– 2 tbsp Asian fish sauce.
Step 2: Pour in the coconut milk and 1¼ cups water. Add 3 of the lime leaves and bring to a gentle boil. Continue boiling gently until reduced by half. When reduced, add the prawns and fish. Reduce the heat, and gently simmer for 5 minutes (the fish is very delicate). When the fish is just opaque, add the Thai basil, cilantro, and scallions.
Step 3: Take the remaining lime leaves and trim away the stems with a sharp knife, cutting away from you. Roll the two leaves together like a cigar and slice into thin strips. Garnish the curry with the remaining lemongrass, red chilies, ginger, and the shredded lime leaves. Drizzle with the lime juice and fish sauce. Serve as is, or with lots of rice or rice noodles, or as part of a buffet. Served in small portions, it also makes a sophisticated offering at a cocktail party.