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Lemongrass-Marinated Pompano with Dipping Sauce

When Top Chef winner Hung Huynh cooks small pompano, he trims the head, tail and fins to square the fish, then cuts it into quarters: "I love to think I invented that presentation," he says. But the recipe is just as good with pompano fillets: The crispy-skinned fish stays moist and is delicious with the hot-sweet-tangy dipping sauce.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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dipping sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 Thai chiles, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
marinated fish
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 scallions—whites chopped, greens sliced, for garnish
  • 1 large stalk of lemongrass, bottom two-thirds chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems, plus sprigs, for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Four 6-ounce pompano fillets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a bowl, stir the lime juice with the fish sauce, chiles and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a mini processor, puree the garlic, scallion whites, lemongrass, cilantro stems, sugar, lime juice, salt and pepper to a paste. Rub the paste all over the pompano. Put the fish on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Scrape the marinade from the fish. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the fish, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat until the skin is crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets, lower the heat to moderate and cook until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes longer; transfer to plates, skin side up, and garnish with scallion greens and cilantro sprigs. Serve with lime wedges and the dipping sauce.


One serving 372 cal, 2 gm carb, 22 gm fat, 6.3 gm sat fat, 38 gm protein

Suggested Pairing

Riesling, especially a light-bodied, citrusy Australian one, won't overwhelm this delicate fish.

Contributed By Photo A© Lucy Schaeffer Published February 2008

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