We particularly like this mango sauce with fried snapper or grouper, but you can serve it over any kind of fish prepared any way you’d like, such as steamed, baked, or broiled. Feel free to add more peppercorns, mango, or nuoc cham to suit your taste. Green peppercorns in brine can be found at some grocery stores and online.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 ripe mangoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons green peppercorns in brine, drained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 pounds white fish fillets, such as snapper or grouper, skin removed
- 3/4 cup nuoc cham (recipe follows), gently warmed if it has been refrigerated
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat. (You can also do this in a small bowl in the microwave.) Add the mango, peppercorns, and fish sauce, gently mix together, and let cool. Add the heavy cream, gently mix, and set aside.
In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium high heat until almost smoking, about 350 degrees F. Carefully add the fillets to the pan, then immediately push a spatula under each fillet so the fish does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook, flipping once, until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the fillets’ size. Transfer the fillets to plates or one large platter, draining any excess oil first, if needed. Top with the reserved mango sauce, nuoc cham, and green onions.
This classic Vietnamese dipping sauce incorporates savory, tart, and sweet flavors. Tung chooses to highlight savory and tart: Her version uses far less sugar than you might find in other recipes. Nuoc cham is essential for Tung’s spring rolls (cha gio), fish with mango sauce, barbecued pork with rice noodles (bun thit nuong), and pork rolling cakes (banh cuon).
Makes about 3 cups
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 cups water
In a medium bowl, stir together the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and water until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the lime juice and stir again.
The sauce will keep, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Stir before using.
All recipes excerpted with permission from “Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream” by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen, published by Chronicle Books 2021.