1 tbspcanola oil1small brown onion, thinly sliced3lemongrass stalks, white part only, thinly sliced 2star anise200 gmpineapple, cut into 1cm chunks100 gmtamarind pulp mixed with 250ml water, strained (reserve 60ml liquid)2 tbspfish sauce1 tbspcoarsely grated light palm sugar, or to tasteFor brushing:vegetable oil4baby snapper fillets (about 150gm each)12okra (about 200gm), sliced lengthways4baby corn, halved12small cherry tomatoes2elephant ear stems, outer fibre peeled (see note)250 gmbean sprouts1 bunchrice paddy herb (see note)Fried garlicFor deep-frying:canola oil2garlic cloves, thinly sliced
For fried garlic, heat oil in a small saucepan to 160C, add garlic and stir continuously until golden (1-2 minutes), then remove garlic with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper (hot oil can be reserved for another use).
Heat canola oil in a saucepan over low heat, add onion and stir continuously until tender (2-3 minutes), add lemongrass and star anise and stir occasionally until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add pineapple, tamarind liquid, fish sauce, sugar, 3 tsp sea salt and 1.25 litres water and bring to the simmer, then simmer to combine flavours (1 minute).
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat, brush lightly with vegetable oil, then add snapper skin-side down and cook until golden (2-4 minutes). Turn and cook until just cooked (1 minute).
Strain tamarind broth into a clean saucepan, add okra and baby corn and simmer over high heat until tender (2 minutes), add tomatoes and elephant ear stems and simmer until tender (1 minute).
Divide bean sprouts among four large warmed bowls, top with vegetables from the broth, then snapper fillets. Pour broth over, top with rice paddy herb and fried garlic and serve hot.
Note Rice paddy herb, known in Vietnamese as ngo om, is available from Vietnamese grocers, as is elephant ear stem. If rice paddy herb is unavailable, you can substitute Vietnamese mint.
This recipe is from the September 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.