4 servings

Adapted from “The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon,” by Ann Le (Globe Pequot, 2011).

For the fish:
1 1/2 pounds firm, skinned white-fleshed fish fillets, such as monkfish, red snapper or striped bass
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger root
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups rice flour
Peanut oil, for frying
3 to 4 ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

For serving
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
1/3 cup nuoc cham (see headnote)
1 lime, cut into quarters
Pickled carrots (see headnote)
12 large lettuce leaves
1 small bunch mint leaves
1 small bunch cilantro
1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

For the fish: Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch chunks. Sprinkle the pieces all over with the salt; let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the fish sauce, ginger, scallions, sugar and pepper in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Rub the mixture over the fish pieces so they are thoroughly coated, then place them on a plate. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels, then seat an oven-safe wire rack on top; place on the middle oven rack and preheat to 200 degrees.

Place the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Lightly coat each piece of marinated fish in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Pour enough oil into a wok to create a depth of at least an inch (1 to 2 cups; the oil will be shallower if you use a large skillet instead). Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking.

Working in batches as needed (do not overcrowd the pan), add the fish and cook for 4 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of the pieces), using tongs to move and turn the fish as needed so that it becomes evenly cooked and golden brown. Use tongs to transfer the cooked fish to the wire rack in the oven.

Boil a kettle of water. Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Pour the just-boiled water over the noodles; let them sit according to the package directions. Drain, then toss with the chopped dill.

When ready to serve, arrange the dilled vermicelli on a platter along with the pieces of warm fried fish; soy sauce, if using, and/or nuoc cham for dipping; lime wedges; pickled carrots; lettuce; mint; and cilantro. Garnish with the peanuts.


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