One-Pot Wonders

Vietnamese Fisherman's Stew

May 18, 2011
Author Notes

This recipe is from our book, In the Small Kitchen. It's in the "dirt cheap" part of the Dinner Party other words, it's a cheap dish that's still totally presentable to serve to friends. To keep this deeply flavorful stew cheap, we reduced the amount of fish and bulked up the stew with potatoes. You can stretch this even further by serving it with white rice--it should serve 6 (or even 8!) then. We spent about $20 total on the dish, which is crazy, since it has fish in it! But of course that will vary depending on where you live and what fishmonger you buy from. —Cara Eisenpress

  • Serves 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 2-inch knob)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup mirin or white wine
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes (red or Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into 11?2-inch pieces
  • 6 bunches baby bok choy, washed and trimmed (or use 1 batch regular bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 1/2 pounds hake, catfish, cod, or tilapia or other mild white fish, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 limes: 1 juiced, 1 quartered
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oil in a lidded pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger; cook until soft but not browned, 8 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another minute.
  2. Sprinkle in the curry powder and cayenne, and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the salt and mirin, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 3 minutes, until slightly reduced. Pour in the coconut milk and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the potatoes, return the liquid to a boil, and then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. (You can make the stew ahead to this point.)
  4. Add the bok choy and toss to distribute. Then add the fish pieces and arrange them so they are fully covered by the liquid. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes, until the fish is cooked through but not falling apart. Add the lime juice to the stew.
  5. Ladle the fish, vegetables, and broth into bowls, and garnish with the lime quarters.
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  • Cara Eisenpress
    Cara Eisenpress
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (, a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.