Goi ca is a dish that surpises me again and again. Fresh raw fish in a dash of vinegar or lemon works amazing, and rolled up in rice paper with a Vietnamese dipping sauce is exceptionally tasty. This variant of Goi ca has a very special sauce, in this case with the remarkable ingredient banana that you can also drink as broth. The whole is an extraordinary flavor design and when served I always get eager.

Fish salad is prepared in different ways with different types of fresh fish. My mother sometimes chooses fresh sardines. She will fillet the little fishes for 3 hours to spoil her children with one of the most perfect dishes of the world. I choose the variant with sea bass more often, the seabass fresh from the market, which I let the fishmonger filleting and cleaning. My anticipatory pleasure begins with my usual instruction to the fishmonger, “skin removed and the head and fish bone to take home.” I need the head and bones to make that remarkable banana sauce.

When I prepare the dish as lunch for myself, I often keep it simple, without roasted peanuts, fresh herbs and crackers. So all garnish is to taste. This dish is not completely boneless.

Ingredients
The amount of this recipe is served well for 1-4 people, depending on whether it is used as lunch, starter or main course.

  • 1 kilo sea bass, filleted by the fishmonger, skin removed and keep head and bone (makes about ½ pounds fillet). You can omit the fish head if preferred.
  • vinegar
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced vinegar little lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
  • fried vermicelli or prawn crackers (optional)
  • rice paper

Banana fish broth and sauce

  • 1 l of water
  • head and bone of the fish
  • ½ ripe banana
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (or crushed peanuts)
  • salt and optionally sugar

Garnish

  • fresh herbs to taste: cilantro, Thai basil, mint, cucumber, etc.

Preparation

  1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Put the head and bones of the fish into the boiling water and turn the heat down. Add a pinch of salt. Leave for a few minutes to make the broth more tasty. Occasionally, remove the foam layer.
  2. Cut the fish fillets into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Pour vinegar generously in the fish (about 100 ml at 500 g fish fillet). Distribute well and let stand about half an hour.
  3. Add the garlic, chilli, sugar and pinch of salt in a mortar and grind finely. Leave the empty mortar uncleaned for the banana. Put the onions in a large bowl and add the pepper garlic paste. Press a little lemon juice over the onion mixture and stir well.
  4. Place the fish fillets in a colander and gently squeeze out the vinegar. The fish is ready unless you want extra doneness to taste, then put the fish in a small amount of vinegar again.
  5. Remove the fish head and the bones from the pan and let cool on a plate. Take the meat from the bone and head and put the meat back in the broth. Throw away the rest of the bones.
  6. Grind the half banana in the mortar and add the banana paste in the soup. Simmer until the banana is largely disconnected. Stir the broth with a hand blender. Remove the layer of foam.
  7. Add some peanut butter in the broth. Taste and marinade to taste with salt and sugar and let the sauce thicken gently.
  8. Add the drained fish fillets to the pepper garlic paste and onions. Stir well and taste, add any extra sugar or salt. Sprinkle with crushed roasted peanuts.
  9. Usually some prawn crackers or fried vermicelli is crumbled over the fish salad. I never do this because the crackers softens quickly. You can serve the crackers or fried vermicelli aside.
  10. You roll up the fish salad with rice paper and add cucumber and fresh herbs to taste. Put the sauce in a small bowl for dipping the fish roles. Keep the saucepan warm so you can add hot sauce to your liking. You can also drink the sauce as broth and you can dip the prawn crackers in it.