Lemongrass-Marinated Pompano with Dipping Sauce
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
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.
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 Thai chiles, minced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 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
- In a bowl, stir the lime juice with the fish sauce, chiles and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- 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.
- 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.
Riesling, especially a light-bodied, citrusy Australian one, won't overwhelm this delicate fish.