Our take on Cá Kho To, a Vietnamese dish of catfish simmered in a salty-sweet fermented fish sauce caramel. If preparing in advance, make the caramel sauce first (step 3) and don't salt the fish until shortly before cooking.
Serves 2, takes around 40 minutes.
1. Sprinkle the monkfish fillets with the salt and set to one side while you prepare the sauce and vegetables.
2. Peel and slice the garlic. Chop the spring onions into 2cm batons. Slice the ginger into thin slices (if you do this on the diagonal you'll get nice big slices which are easy to avoid when eating).
3. For the sauce, place the white sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, and cook until you obtain a dark caramel (around 8-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the coconut water, fish sauce, and black pepper - be careful when adding the liquids as the temperature of the sugar will create steam. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Heat a claypot or heavy cast iron saucepan, large enough to accommodate both monkfish steaks in a single layer, over a medium heat. Add the oil, and then the spring onions, garlic, ginger and dried chilli, and cook for 2 minutes, until very lightly coloured. Add the caramel sauce and reduce by around a quarter, then add the monkfish. Simmer until cooked - this should take around 15 minutes - and regularly baste the top of the fish steaks with the sauce. Turn the steaks over after 7 minutes, and continue simmering and basting for a further 8 or so minutes. Place the lid on the pot and allow to rest for 5 minutes, before serving with rice.
2 large monkfish steaks on the bone
1/2 tsp fine salt
6 spring onions
Thumb-sized piece of ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
30g white sugar
220ml coconut water
60ml fish sauce
A few twists of black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil