Gỏi Cá – Vietnamese Fish Salad
Hey folks, sorry this recipe took so long to get to you but life just gets in the way sometimes! So here it is one of my family favorites, Gỏi Cá or Fish Salad.
This fish salad can be eaten with rice paper and be part main meal or with rice crackers as a side dish.
The salad uses lemon juice to cook the fish, which means it is critical you buy fresh fish. Ask your fish monger for fish that is sashmi quality.
Lucky for me my dad is a keen fisherman and I can get a hold of fresh King George Whititng which is a beautiful firm white fish. It is a real family affair when cooking this dish, we all have allocated jobs. My dad guts and cleans the fish, I debone and fillet the fish. My mother cuts the fish and does the finally plating because she is the head cook and nobody argues with her. My sister in law slices and pickle the onions.
The dipping sauce is made from the fish bones which we boil up and add fish sauce, chilli, and garlic. Before serving the sauce it is critiqued and given approval by the ladies in the house, my mum, my sister in law and myself.
To serve the fish salad you can arrange it in a fancy way I have in the photo, which means you will need to plate individually for each person. We normally prepare the salad in one big bowl and then serve it in 2 large plates to eat with rice paper. In the photo I used Nasturtium flowers to add a bit of colour. If you are not familiar with the Nasturtuium plant, the leaves and flowers are edible. You could find them at your local nursery or farmers market.
The list of ingredients here are for 4-5 people eating the fish salad as a main meal and making rice paper rolls.
1 kg of firm white fish like King George Whiting
1 small red onion sliced finely
3 yellow onion sliced finely
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup of roasted peanuts
½ bunch of Vietnamese mint
½ bunch Mint
2 Green apples shredded finely
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 packet of rice paper (50 sheets)
2 tablespoon of Fish sauce
1 clove of garlic minced
3 tablespoons of sugar
Fresh chilli to garnish
1 tablespoon of corn flour
- Clean and fillet the fish, removing all the bones. You can leave the skin on or ask your fish monger to remove it when he or she cleans the fish for you. Keep the bones and heads for the sauce.
- Put the bones and heads into a small pot and add a cup of water, place the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for at least 30mins.
- While the sauce is cooking away, cut the fish into 1cm strips and place into a bowl.
- Cover the fish with 1 ½ cup of lemon juice, add 1 tsp of salt and mix gently.
- Leave to rest for 10-15minutes. The fish will change to a milky colour as lemon cooks the fish. If you want your fish cooked through you can leave it in the bowl for additional 10 minutes.
- When the fish is ready squeeze out the lemon juice from the fish and return to bowl, keep the lemon juice for the sauce.
- Add the lemon juice from the fish to the pot and continue to cook for another 5mins.
- Strain the liquid from the bones in a sieve. You should be left with about 1 ½ cup of liquid, add a bit more water if needed. Return the liquid to the pot.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, garlic and 1 table spoon of corn flour to the pot and put it back on the heat on low until the corn flour has thicken the sauce. Add more corn flour if it hasn’t thickened enough. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce, you are looking for salty, sweet and sour flavours in the sauce. Once you are happy with how the sauce tastes, remove pot from heat and set aside.
- Slice the yellow onions finely in a mandolin and pickle them in vinegar, sugar and salt for 10 minutes. Then drain and squeeze excess with your hands. Place the onions into the fish bowl.
- Slice the red onion and place into the fish bowl.
- Grate your green apple and add to the salad and give it a gentle mix.
- Now to adjust the seasoning of the fish salad, again you are looking for a balance of sour, salty and sweet. Adjust by adding either more lemon or salt or sugar if one of the flavours is dominant or not present.
- You can plate your salad in the same fashion I did which will impress your guests or you can plate into 2 large platters or plates.
- Finally scatter the herbs, shallots and peanuts on top of the salad.
If you are having it as a main meal with rice paper rolls, prepare your table with bowl of hot water and place the rice paper on the table for everyone to help themselves. You can also serve with rice noodles as well.
Lady Rice xx
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