This is one of Luke Nguyen's favourite fish recipes from the Vietnamese part of his Mekong journey. Frying the sliced pork belly in the sugar brings a lovely depth of flavour to the dish. Young coconut juice is used for the broth adding a fresh natural sweetness. Serve as part of a shared meal.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (45 votes)


  • 500 g basa, silver perch or cod cutlets 
  • 60 ml vegetable oil 
  • 2 tbsp shaved palm sugar (jaggery) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 200 g boneless pork belly, finely sliced 
  • 200 ml young coconut juice 
  • 4 green onions, white part only 
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 chilli, sliced 


  • 1 garlic clove, chopped 
  • 1 red Asian shallot, diced 
  • 1 tbsp shaved palm sugar (jaggery) 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce 
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 10 minutes

Combine the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the fish and turn to coat in the marinade, then cover and marinate for 10 minutes. Drain off and reserve the marinade.

Place a wok or frying pan over a low heat. Add the vegetable oil and palm sugar and cook until the sugar has caramelised, stirring a little as it starts to colour.

Add the garlic and pork belly and stir-fry for 15 seconds, then immediately add the marinated fish. Coat the fish with the caramel, then add the reserved marinade and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the coconut juice and simmer for a further 6 minutes, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Serve sprinkled with the spring onion, pepper and chilli.