This is my third attempt preparing a fish dinner (since the kids left) and it is a recipe finally worth writing about.  I added a ton of extra vegetables so it looks more complicated than it needs to be so please don’t be intimidated.  I will give you the basic recipe with the option to add more vegetables.  I love Thai flavors, lime, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger and fish sauce.  This all comes together so nicely – the broth is flavorful and highlights the flakiness of the cod.  I found this recipe in Foolproof Fish – America’s Test Kitchen – a cookbook that my mother suggested when I mentioned how little I know about preparing fish.  The book is beautiful and filled with recipes as well as substitutions and tips on cooking methods.  So give it a try if you think you might fancy it.  I don’t get payment btw!

I used a lemongrass puree that I found in the vegetable aisle of my local supermarket because I couldn’t find fresh lemongrass.  

Fish sauce is sold at most supermarkets these days – if you can’t find you can easily order online. 

You can use light coconut milk, but the broth will be noticeably thinner and less rich.  

This recipe serves 4 and you can substitute black sea bass, haddock, hake or pollock.



  • 1 tablespoon oil – I used avocado oil, the author writes vegetable oil, but I think most oils work ok
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch long matchsticks
  • 1 (10inch) lemon grass stalk, trimmed to bottom 6 inches and bruised with back of knife (or use the lemongrass puree I used about a dollop the size of a quarter)
  • 4 (6-8) ounces skinless cod fillets – about 1 inch thick – or a little thicker is fine – 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper – or to taste
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk (well shaken)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts (if you like!)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (find info here for a note on cilantro)
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and sliced thin (or less depending on your taste) If you don’t have serrano chile substitute with a red Fresno chile if possible.  Otherwise, improvise for some heat – I used dry serrano chile and minced.
  • As you can see in the photo, I added cooked corn, zucchini and squash ribbons, peas and tomatoes.  But completely unnecessary.  If interested though, I cooked the corn first and then I sautéed these vegetables a bit before I added them to the broth.  Maybe 5 minutes…really depends on the veggies you add.


Set up your mis-en-place (ingredients):

Clean and slice leeks, mince garlic, peel and grate the ginger, wash, peel and cut carrots, bruise the lemon grass, squeeze the lime, crush the peanuts, wash the cilantro, cut the chile

  • Heat oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 
  • Add leek and a bit of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned about 5-7 minutes. 
  • Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds (don’t let it burn it will taste bitter).
  • Stir in water, carrots, and lemon grass and bring to simmer.
  • Pat cod dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.  
  •  Nestle the fish into the skillet and spoon some cooking liquid over the top and bring to a summer.  
  • Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife or registers 135 degrees, this should take 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cod.  Cook longer if fish still looks opaque.  
  • If adding extra sautéed vegetables, you can add them to the skillet at this point.  
  • Transfer fish to individual shallow bowls, discard the lemon grass and divide leeks and carrots (and extra veggies if you used) evenly among the bowls.
  • Off heat whisk in the coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Ladle broth over fish and sprinkle with cilantro, peanuts and Chile.  Serve with lime wedges.  So good! I’d like it right now!

Recommended Posts