• Grilled Murray cod with mam nem dressing (Food Safari Water)Source: Food Safari Water

Really hot chillies, garlic, sea salt and oil - before you pop the fish skin side down on the grill - watch the fish immediately crisp up. Take your fresh rice paper, pop in a little lettuce, Vietnamese mint, rice noodle, a little fish before rolling and dipping it in in the mam nem dressing. The secret to Jerry Mai's sauce is all in the addition of lemonade. Food Safari Water






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 1 whole Murray cod (about 400 – 600 g) 
  • Sea salt
  • Vegetable oil, for rubbing
  • 2 tbsp fried shallots

Mam nem dressing 

  • 20 g long fresh red chilli, coarsely chopped 
  • 20 g peeled ginger 
  • 20 g peeled garlic 
  • 350 g peeled chopped pineapple 
  • 100 ml coconut water 
  • 150 ml mam nem sauce (fermented anchovy sauce)
  • 150 ml lemonade 

Spring onion oil

  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 ml vegetable oil


To serve

  • 1 bunch Vietnamese mint, leaves picked 
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch shiso, leaves picked
  • 1 cup cooked bun noodles (vermicelli noodles) 
  • ½ pineapple, peeled and sliced (or star fruit if in season)
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut into 8 long wedges and seeds removed 
  • 1 packet rice paper rounds (see note)

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.


Preheat a charcoal barbecue.

For the mam nem dressing, blend the chilli, ginger, garlic and pineapple to a rough paste. Transfer to a saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low-medium heat for 20 -30 minutes or until the sauce slightly thick and fragrant.

Meanwhile, for the spring onion oil, place the spring onion and salt in a heatproof bowl. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or until nearly smoking. Pour the hot oil over the spring onion, being careful as the oil may splatter. Set aside.

To butterfly the cod, cut along the inside belly of the fish and carefully remove the bones making sure the fish remains in one piece. Once the main bone is removed, trim the wings and fins leaving the tail intact. 

When the charcoal is ready (it will be glowing red with a small flame on the charcoal), season the outside of the cod with sea salt and rub with vegetable oil. Place the fish on the grill, skin side down and cook for about 5 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Flip the fish and cook the flesh side for another 5 minutes or until just cooked. Place the cod, skin-side up on a large serving plate. Spoon over the shallot oil and sprinkle with fried shallots. Arrange the herbs, noodles, fruit and cucumber onto a large plate and serve with the cod, mam nem dressing and rice paper sheets for rolling. 

• The rice paper Jerry uses is a special rice paper from Vietnam and goes soft when rubbed with the juice from a pineapple. If using rice paper available locally in Australia, you will need to rehydrate with water so that you can wrap the rolls.


Maeve O'Meara is back in Food Safari Water airing 7.30pm Wednesday nights on SBS and then you can catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.