Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cá Kho Tra

My friend and erstwhile employer, Morais, took me for a business lunch with a client last week to the end of the road at the fishing village of Sta Catarina. We were both on the look out for fresh fish and, in my case, fresh tuna (I had been eyeing not so fresh albacore on the city market for a week!). And I found one!

Why was I looking for fresh tuna? Because I had come across this simple but fascinating recipe from Vietnam in Alan Davidson’s Seafood of South-East Asia:

“This dish is best made with tunny, but other fish with a relatively high fat content, for example Spanish mackerel, may be used. One effect of the tea is to balance the fat. The tea itself may be ordinary black tea if lotus tea (that is to say, tea containing the little white glands from lotus flowers) is not available.

800 grams tunny, in steaks

cooking oil

lotus tea

100 grams pork, diced (optional)

1 small onion, sliced

1 ½ soupspoonfuls nuoc nam (fish sauce)

½ teaspoonful black pepper

1 ½ soupspoonfuls sugar

Heat the oil and cook the tunny steaks in it until they are beginning to turn brown. Reserve them. Meanwhile make a pot of quite strong tea.

Put the fish and pork in a roomy casserole, pour the tea over them, add all the other ingredients and let the whole mixture simmer over a low flame for 40 minutes (or longer if the steaks are very thick).”

I used one tuna steak of perhaps 1 ½ cm thick and black tea – other ingredients as above. The Nuoc Nam is I think essential. If you’ve gone to the expense of buying good tuna, buy good rice to accompany.


Morais asked me for the recipe today so here it is!

Good luck and Bon Appetit!

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