Crunchy and tangy Thai seafood.
6 fillets pink snapper, 5 to 6 oz. each, skin on
1 tbsp grated lime zest plus 1⁄2 lime for juice
6 tbsp sliced cilantro
7 tbsp grape-seed oil, plus more, if needed
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 tsp ground chile de árbol
3 tbsp finely diced shallots
1 tsp minced garlic
1⁄4 tsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp shrimp paste
1 canned tomato, preferably San Marzano or Muir Glen, chopped
1⁄2 cup Spanish peanuts
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
9 kumquats, thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 recipe Coconut Rice
1⁄4 cup sliced scallions, or 2 ounces mizuna, cleaned and dried
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Step 1. Season the fish with the lime zest and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Step 2. Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook and remove the fish from the refrigerator, to let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 3. To make the sambal, heat a medium sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 3 tablespoons grape-seed oil, and add the bell pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often, and then add the ground chile, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another few minutes, until the pepper begins to caramelize, adding another tablespoon of oil if the pan starts to look dry.
Step 4. Add 2 tablespoons shallots and the garlic, season with a heaping 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and the sugar, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize.
Step 5. Add the shrimp paste, and use a wooden spoon to break it up and help it toast in the oil and combine with the pepper. Once the shrimp paste has become integrated with the pepper, add the tomato to the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the tomato is cooked down and glazes the pepper. Cool for a few minutes, and then purée in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Step 6. While the sambal is cooking, spread the peanuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they smell nutty. When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the fish with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish on the grill, skin-side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the fish once, until it’s nicely colored on the first side. Turn the fish over, and cook for a few more minutes, until it’s just barely cooked through.
Step 7. While the fish is cooking, heat 1⁄4 cup grape-seed oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, let it cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining tablespoon shallots to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Step 8. When the shallots and ginger are sizzling in the oil, add the sambal, the kumquats, the peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir well to combine, and taste for balance and seasoning. Cook for a minute more, turn off the heat, and add the remaining 1⁄4 cup cilantro.
Step 9. Spoon approximately 1⁄2 cup hot coconut rice onto the center of each of six dinner plates. Scatter the sliced scallions or mizuna over the rice, and place the fish, skin-side up, on top. Spoon generous amounts of kumquat sambal over the fish, letting it soak down into the rice.
Reprinted with permission from The A.O.C. Cookbook (2013, Knopf.)
See more recipes from The A.O.C. Cookbook.