COMPLIMENTARY RECIPE: Crispy Skin Snapper with Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce

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“My mother used to cook this dish for the family at least once a week. One of my
duties as a child was to lay sheets of newspaper on the floor in front of the stove to catch any oil splatter. In my Vietnamese squatting position, I would get side tracked by the newspaper articles and then be told to hurry up with a flick behind the ear from Mum as the oil got hotter.

Mum’s preferred fish is silver bream or sand whiting. Snapper is my personal choice.
I enjoy the texture of its crispy golden skin when fried, allowing me to crunch, suck and chew on all the bones. Don’t believe your parents when they tell you that eating the fish’s eyes helps to improve your eyesight. It’s not true. The Nguyen clan have eaten fish eyes our entire lives and we all wear glasses.” – Luke Nguyen



1 whole snapper (300 – 500 g / 10 ½ oz – 1 lb 2 oz)

2 tablespoons potato starch

1 egg white

Oil, for deep-frying

1 large handful shredded green papaya or green mango

4 tablespoons ginger and lime fish sauce

1 tablespoon spring onion oil


Wash and dry the snapper thoroughly and place on a cutting board. Make 3 diagonal cuts along each side of the fish, making sure not to cut right through to the bone. Mix the egg white with the potato starch to form a batter and set aside. In a large wok or deep-fryer, heat the oil to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds.

Coat the snapper thoroughly with the batter. Wipe off any excess batter and carefully slide the snapper into the oil. Cook the fish for 5-7 minutes, or until done. The skin should be crisp and the fish slightly underdone, as it will continue to cook once removed from the oil.

Place on serving platter, cover with the shredded green papaya or mango, spoon over the ginger and lime fish sauce and spring onion oil.

Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce

100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) dipping fish sauce

Juice of ½ lime

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

1 teaspoon pickled chilli (from Asian supermarkets)


Combine all of the ingredients together and mix well.

MAKES 125 ml (4 fl oz / ½ cup)

Spring Onion Oil

250 ml (9 fl oz / 1 cup) vegetable oil

6 – 8 spring onions (scallions), green part only, finely sliced


Put the oil and the spring onions in a saucepan over
medium heat. Cook the spring onions until they just start to simmer in the oil,
remove from the heat and allow to cool. The spring onion oil will keep for up
to 1 week in a covered container in the fridge.

MAKES 250 ml (9 fl oz / 1 cup)

Phuong Nguyen