LIKE MANY GREAT dishes, this one began far from a restaurant kitchen. Chefs Ann Redding and Matt Danzer were in Thailand visiting family, who took the couple to a blessedly untouristy beach. “People were so modest they jumped in the ocean fully clothed, which is the opposite of what you see Western travelers do at the more crowded beaches,” Ms. Redding recalled. “For lunch we had nam prik with whole squid full of eggs. It was amazing.”
The term “nam prik” encompasses a whole category of Thai chili-based sauces. At their restaurant Uncle Boons, in Manhattan, Ms. Redding and Mr. Danzer use the sweet-savory, lime-spiked one they ate on the beach that day with grilled octopus, prawns and yellowtail collar. Deeply flavorful and complex, it couldn’t be simpler to prepare: Just whisk lime juice, palm sugar, thinly sliced chilies and fish sauce together until the sugar dissolves.
In this recipe, their second Slow Food Fast contribution, the chefs call for steam-roasting meaty cod fillets with the sauce until it penetrates the flesh, imparting umami flavor and a pleasant heat. Finish the dish with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime, or even just a flurry of lime zest. A side of rice comes in handy for sopping up the extra sauce. You’ll definitely want to.
“Put this on any seafood and you’re set,” Ms. Redding said. “You really don’t need anything else.”
Cod Drenched in Lime-Chili Nam Prik
Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 whole lime, zested and quartered, plus 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 green Thai Bird chilies or other small hot chilies, stemmed and thinly sliced
4 (8-ounce) fillets cod or sea bass
6 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Cooked white rice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make nam prik sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic, palm sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, olive oil and chilies until sugar dissolves.
2. Arrange fish, skin-side down, in a shallow baking dish just large enough to comfortably fit fillets. Pour sauce over fish and cover dish with aluminum foil. Transfer to oven and steam-roast until fillets are just cooked through, 12-15 minutes.
3. To serve, plate fish and pour sauce over top. Garnish with cilantro and lime zest. Serve with lime wedges and rice.