Crispy Fried Elephant Fish with Ginger Fish Sauce: CA Tai Tuong Chien Xu

Recipe courtesy of Luke Nguyen
Show: Luke Nguyen's Vietnam Episode: Mekong River
TOTAL TIME: 38 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive Prep: 20 min
Cook: 8 min
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Intermediate


  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 ounces water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chile
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 (1 1/2 pounds) whole elephant fish, unscaled (or snapper, scaled)*
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (about 4 cups)
  • 3 sprigs fresh coriander ( cilantro), for garnish
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
  • *Cook's Note: You can use whole snapper as a substitute for the elephant fish; however the snapper will have to be scaled.
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In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, and water and bring to the boil. Take off the heat, and transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. In a mortar and pestle, pound together the ginger, chile, and garlic. Once the fish sauce mixture is cooled, add the ginger mixture and lime juice. Set aside.

In a large wok (large enough to hold the entire fish), heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully, slide the whole fish into the oil and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. The scales of the elephant fish will puff up as it cooks. Remove the fish to a platter, and dress with 4 tablespoons of ginger fish sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serve the fish with steamed jasmine rice and remaining ginger sauce.



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