Coconut Fish Stew With Basil and Lemon Grass

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 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped

1 jalapeņo 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 snapper or other firm fish (cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks), peeled shrimp, scallops or a combination

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Fresh lime juice, to taste

Cooked rice, for serving (optional).

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

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

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

From The New York Times (March 19, 2008)