Recipe: Coconut Fish Stew With Basil And Lemongrass From the Kitchen Window column

Coconut Fish Stew With Basil And Lemongrass

This vibrant stew adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark (Hyperion 2010) has a longish list of ingredients but comes together in a flash, like so many of Clark's recipes. Because I had gotten a whole fish the day I made it, I had a leftover fish frame to simmer in the chicken stock for extra flavor — an extra step, but worth it. Do you need to use whole head-on shrimp? Absolutely not. But it's a great way to freak out your kids.

T. Susan Chang for NPR
Coconut Fish Stew With Basil And Lemongrass
T. Susan Chang for NPR

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, if desired, and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

3/4 pound seafood, such as snapper or other firm fish (cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks), peeled shrimp and/or scallops, or a combination

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste

Cooked rice, for serving (optional — I particularly like sticky rice)

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, jalapeno pepper, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, salt and lime zest. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the seafood and herbs. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and serve with rice, if desired. (Note: Without rice, it's more of a soup than a stew.)