Smoked Branzino with Turnips, Nam Pla and Spring Herbs
Fire up your Traeger grill and prepare this Thai-inspired dish from award-winning chef Tim Hollingsworth, an alum of the famed French Laundry restaurant. He roasts a whole branzino along with Tokyo turnips, a small variety with a delicate taste. Then he serves everything atop nam pla, a classic dipping sauce that boasts salty, sour, sweet and spicy flavors—a hallmark of Thai cuisine. A garnish of mixed spring herbs lends a fresh finish to the dish.
For the nam pla:
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) water
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) fish sauce
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) fresh lime juice
- 1 cup (3 oz./90 g) chopped lemongrass
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) palm sugar
- 3 Thai green chiles
- 1 Tbs. chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 whole branzino, cleaned
- 8 Tokyo turnips
- Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Leaves and tender stems from 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Leaves and tender stems from 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
- Leaves, with blossoms if possible, from 1/2 bunch fresh Thai basil
To make the nam pla, in a large saucepan over high heat, combine the water, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, palm sugar, chiles and ginger and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain the sauce into a bowl. The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Set the temperature on a Traeger wood pellet grill to 375°F (190°C), close the lid and preheat according to the manufacturer’s instructions for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drizzle the branzino with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the turnips with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Place the branzino in the center of a grill-safe, high-heat griddle and arrange the turnips around the fish.
Place the griddle on the grill grate, close the lid and roast until the turnips are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the branzino registers 120°F (49°C), 40 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, toss together the parsley, cilantro and basil.
Spoon the nam pla onto a high-sided platter. Place the branzino and turnips on top of the sauce. Garnish with the herbs and serve immediately. Serves 2.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Tim Hollingsworth