At her Oakland restaurant Nyum Bai, chef Nite Yun serves classic Cambodian street food like this quick-cured, brightly acidic halibut in lettuce cups, AKA plea trey. Red Thai chiles, as opposed to green, impart a subtle fruitiness and more up-front spice in the lime marinade, which pulls double-duty as a dressing. A touch of oil right before serving adds flavor-boosting richness to lean halibut.

April 2020


Credit: Victor Protasio

Recipe Summary

35 mins
25 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Stir together lime juice, galangal, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add fish, and toss gently to coat. Cover and chill until fish is opaque, about 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes.

  • Strain fish, reserving marinade. Remove and discard galangal and garlic; set fish aside. Transfer marinade to a small saucepan; add 1 teaspoon sugar and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Taste mixture, and stir in up to 1 more teaspoon sugar, if desired. (Dressing should be bright, sweet, and salty. If the dressing tastes too acidic, add sugar to mellow.) Let dressing cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, toss together bell pepper, shallot, lemongrass, chile, peanuts, cilantro, and, if using, bean sprouts in a serving bowl. Add fish and dressing to bowl, and toss to coat. Season with salt to taste. Drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil, if desired, and serve with lettuce leaves.

Suggested Pairing

Lightly herbal, grapefruit-y Sauvignon Blanc.