To make this deeply nut-flavored sauce, Andrew Carmellini cooks peanut butter with garlic, ginger and lemongrass, then punches it up with Sriracha hot sauce. It's not the only accompaniment to the snapper, though: He also serves the fillets with the cooking juices, flavored with lime juice, peanut oil and a little pungent fish sauce.
Plus: Fish and Seafood Cooking Guide
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, bottom half only, lightly bruised
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Six 7-ounce, thick red snapper fillets
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, heat 3/4 cup of the oil. Add the lemongrass and ginger and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the peanut butter, vinegar, sugar, garlic, water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and discard the lemongrass. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the Sriracha and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and puree until smooth. Season with salt.
In a pie plate, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. Add the snapper fillets and scallions and turn the fish to coat.
Fill a large, wide pot with 2 inches of water. Set 3 ramekins in the pot and top with a wire rack. Bring the water to a boil. Set the pie plate on the rack, cover and steam until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pie plate.
Transfer the snapper fillets to plates and garnish with the cilantro. Pour the peanut sauce and the liquid from the pie plate into separate bowls and serve alongside.
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