Very Green Fish Stew


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

One Good Dish

By David Tanis

Published 2013

  • About

I wanted this simple fish stew to be especially herbaceous, so I used lots of cilantro, basil, and mint, along with the pungent flavors of lemongrass, chiles, and ginger. For tropical sweetness, I added both coconut and coconut oil. The resulting broth is bright, spicy, satisfying, and most definitely green. The green sauce could also be stirred into a pot of steamed clams or mussels.


For the Green Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 cup basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup mint leaves (about ½ ounce)
  • A 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 small serrano or fresh Thai chiles, chopped
  • ½ cup grated unsweetened coconut (fresh, dried, or frozen)
  • A 4-inch length of lemongrass, tender center only, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Ice water (optional)
  • pounds firm white-fleshed fish fillet, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • 3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges


    To make the green sauce, put the cilantro, basil, mint, ginger, garlic, chiles, coconut, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, and salt in a blender or food processor. Quickly process to make a smooth, thick puree, adding a little ice water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning; it should be quite spicy.

    Season the fish chunks lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a wide deep pan over medium heat. Add the fish and fry lightly for 1 minute on one side. Flip the fish and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the broth and half of the green sauce, then put on the lid and cook for 2 minutes, or just until the fish is opaque throughout. Gently stir in the remaining green sauce. Taste the broth and adjust the salt if necessary. Ladle the stew into bowls, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve with lime wedges.